CRYPT 24 - HATCHET TO THE HEAD
Crypt 24 - Hatchet to the Head.
Released 30th December 2022
Reviewed by Kate, 16th January 2023
Recorded by Donny Hammonds at The Afterdark Studio
Mastered by P. Paul Fenech
Crypt 24 are:
J Nightmare- Guitar and vocals
S Nightmare - Slap Bass
Kelly "The Killer" Puryear- Drums
The album is dedicated to the memory of Kelly "The Killer" Puryear, who passed away shortly after recording.
Love them or loathe them, the Meteors have been so influential on the entire Psychobilly scene. A dedicated genealogist would be able to work out their descendants through influence and shared musicians, if they felt like it. But what if it was easier to track the Meteors’ legacy? What if there was a swampy, McCurdy Brothers-scented, distortion-heavy, bluesy record directly struck by a Meteor? Well, you’ve got one right here.
Mastered by the Demon Seed himself, Mr P. Paul Fenech, Hatchet to the Head is a record which asks the question, “what happens when you take some North Georgia Hillbillies and add a case of Papst Blue Ribbon Beer, a bottle of cheap Bourbon, a box full of B-Monster Movies and 60's Biker Flicks, a stack of Sun Records 45s, Grand Daddy's old Sears electric guitar, a junky old Japanese Fuzz Pedal, marathon episodes of the Munsters and the Addams Family and a pamphlet from the Church Of Satan?”. Calling their sound ‘Voodoo Psychobilly and Sci-Fi Garage Punk Madness’, their name comes from the address of Marilyn Monroe’s resting place and this is the Rome, Georgia natives’ second venture into the dark side. Your only regret when listening to this album is that it’s painfully short at thirty one minutes long.
Riding with the Witch - Starting with some wicked slap bass and a witchy cackle under a guitar line like a laser pistol, we’ve got an instrumental to open up this record. Beginning an album with an instrumental is a very Fenech move, like an overture to an opera, and I really like that as an introduction to where a band is at for a moment in time.
Bettys got a shotgun - J’s voice has this Jim Morrison quality to it, but a really nasty lurid hillbilly preacher Jim Morrison. The shakes and shivers on ‘shotgun’ give way to a sizzling guitar solo kept in line by a hi-hat leash. It’s garage rock if the garage was full of corpses.
Hatchet to the Head - Slow and luxuriously fuzzy, the slap bass is deep and subtle and the vocals are sleazily slinky. I’m loving the fade-ins and -outs to tease us before blasting a wall of distortion. Three songs in and we’re getting a sense of the signature style of Crypt 24: gory, hellfire lyrics, explosive guitar work and acidic drumming.
Seven ways to kill you - Exactly as the title suggests, J lists the ways he would kill his evil ex over a rhythm like a runaway truck. We’ve all had nasty breakups in our lives, but this one is recounted with gorgeous echoes on the guitar and tense start/stops on the melody. There’s this mocking, vicious falsetto at one point and it’s grotesquely brilliant.
Belas junkie Blues - Bela Lugosi, ‘forgotten movie star of yesterday’ is the centre of this blues-rock number full of yelps and bass notes that roll down the stairs to a crypt. It’s a tragic tale of an aging ‘Hollywood vampire’ that owes a debt to post punk and will get stuck in your head.
Razor Mack - Mack’s not got a knife, but he might be driving a horrific truck in the manner of the monster from Jeepers Creepers while killing indiscriminately. One of the great things about this record is while it does deal with very dark and gruesome themes, it does so in the technicolour b-movie style of an Elvira special. This is a rockin’ and rollin’ screamer with a deceptively simple, building guitar line from J and the kind of intense drumming you’d expect from an act like Thee Scarecrows AKA.
Bride of Frankenstein - A slower number that’s almost romantic about falling in love with an undead girl. There’s a tiny bit of a country vibe here, and I love how the lyrics alternate by describing the object of J’s affections as a grotesque zombie creature and a gorgeous psychobilly lady. It’s playful and fun without losing that unflinching Crypt 24 edge, and S’s slap bass slinks into the spotlight.
Monster in your Closet - A big powerful number that’s got that trademark psycho slap bass pop and an excess of cymbal. If the stuff of nightmares could sing, this would be its karaoke staple, but it’s got this cartoonish edge like the Oogie Boogie song. The guitar loses its chime and degenerates into sludge, and it’s brilliant. If you don’t love J’s drawl by now, you need to re-listen to this album.
Hell House - A big clash with the previous tracks to keep us on our toes. This song seems lighter somehow, but the lyrics drag us back into horror territory and it’s all about Kelly’s drumming on this number. The damned can never leave the Hell House in the manner of Hotel California, and you won’t want to leave it behind either.
Vampirinas Cantina - A touch of a latino vibe from the rhythm section here and the slap bass is king. Their world building is really quite intense on this one: sure, they could just pun their way through a description of a vampire restaurant owner, but describing the landscape makes this one a very visual and cinematic number. Their sense of fun is back and it’s a sugar-skull of a track.
Jack the Rippers bedroom - Another big shift and this disturbingly historically accurate number is full of echo and click. It would make you uneasy if it wasn’t for triumphant buildup on the bridges. Jack knows he’s evaded capture and celebrates with a mini drum solo on the outro.
Invaders - Let’s shake it up with a track on another classic movie theme: alien monsters from outer space. The cowboy yelp on ‘all earthlings must die’ is deranged and brilliant, as is the refrain ‘invaders invade us….’ These aliens have not come in peace but they have brought sizzling guitar and a really balanced track in which every member of the trio is giving a hundred percent. Not the finish you’d expect, but a very welcome one to lighten the mood, despite the movie screaming as it fades out.
This scuzzy gem of an album deserves a lot of attention in the psychobilly community. It’s a really exciting progression from their last album, 2019’s Zombie Bikers from Hell, and you can taste the brutal Fenech magic on this record. Crypt 24 need to come to Europe as quickly as their cowboy boots will take them and hit the festival circuit because this style of sensational, tabloid, fun murder album will play incredibly well.