Album Review: Koffin Kats – “Forever For Hire”

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Just in time for last year’s Halloween, gear-headed punkabilly band, The Koffin Kats ,released Forever for Hire, their 5th full-length album in roughly 6 years. (wow). KK is typically heralded in psychobilly circles but seemed to step more towards the horrorpunk realm on their previous release, Drunk In Daylight. On Forever for Hire, that progression seems to continue even further. Twangy, rockabilly guitar is ornamental at best and Tommy Koffin’s guitar is a little more dominate, incredibly overdriven riffs and cuts with some well timed chorus effects. But even with the metallic punk guitar more prominent, Vic Victor still dominates with his upright and a level of bass thrashing that would make speed metal bassist blush.

With the punk sensibilities of the band, anthems are expected but Forever for Hire is almost one continuous anthem. Named perfectly, the album opener is “How it Starts,” an instrumental that begins with a gothic organ and then explodes into KK’s familiar wall of sound style that’s so thick your ears can hardly process what is unfolding. “How it Starts” is actually a remake of “March of the Waynos” from a prior album.  Content-wise, KK doesn’t stray from its horror base— see “Nostrovia”, “Saw My Friend Explode Today”, “Asylum”—and another installment in the Graveyard Tree series. KK also go a little political with “Heading Off To Battle,” a slightly softer tune about a soldier’s anxiety of going to war. The use of horror continues to be a strong aspect of KK, especially because they actually make more of it than most modern horrorpunk bands, bands that tend to just pick a horror movie and merely spit back some plot highlights set to lyrics. “Small Block and Flathead,” one of the best anthems on the album, exemplifies KK’s quality use of the stereotypical horror landscape to implicate stronger meaning beyond the literal. On the surface, the song comes across as another hotrod, psychobilly tune, but simultaneously uses the content—greaser undeads reviving cars at the “boneyard” on the outskirts of some “weird town”—as a general metaphor of punk culture and the hard perception of society’s normal vs. weird over-generalizations. It’s not poetry prize material but easily trumps the upchucked, formulaic songs of so, so many modern horrorpunk bands.

Probably the most provoking aspect of the album is the distinct self-realization of the album as a whole. The album closes with “Forever for Hire,” a total call-to-arms for the band that does some interesting stuff with overdubbed chorus on top a long, galloping psychobilly shred. “We are always forever for hire,” really captures the ethos of the band.  KK puts out quality full length CDs…often. They do this while also boasting one of the more rigorous, non-stop tour schedules you will find. The band has one goal in mind and that’s to play loud & hard, anywhere, at any time.

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