Starting in 1981 as the Garbage Groupies, Ray, Toulouse and Co. started to feel their vision and tested their way through Earths music. The Raymen emerged with their back-from-the-grave, swamp-blues meets death-country and psychobilly sound in 1985, debuting on their "Going Down To Death Valley" album. "Desert Drive" and their double LP, "From the Trashcan To the Ballroom" followed the next two years.
Song themes run the gamut from werewolves, to voodoo, 50s horror B-movies, trains, switchblades, witchdoctors, Lucifer, outer space and fast cars. Oh, yeah, and the perennial trouble with dames. Hoodoo you love?
One constant in the band and its direction over, low, these many decades, has been head Raymen, and lead singer and songwriter, Hank Ray.
With 15 albums and appearances on numerous compilations over the years, the Berlin based Raymen return in top form with their latest release, "Death's Black Train".
"Death's Black Train" is a rockin brain-stomper that gives no quarter, and is an instant refresher course in what rock and roll is all about in the first place. Hank Ray is recognized as the Godfather of Death Country Rock, following a Goth C&W style of his own. On "Death's Black Train" Hank Ray dials up the energy to recapture the dark ju-ju and fury that made the The Raymen one of the top cult bands in the genre, and not just another "Cramps" wannabe band. Hank Rays distinctive, rugged baritone imparts an ominous tone to the songs, adding an extra dimension of menace and boding evil to the music.
All those lonely hours spent kneeling beside my bed last year in self-flagellation and prayer to Papa Legba, waiting for a glimmer of light to shatter the cold and empty musical darkness of 2012 finally paid off when Hank Ray and The Raymen released their outstanding EP, Death's Black Train.
This wasn’t just another filthy, dirty, meaningless one night stand in rock ‘n’ roll’s back alley. It was a cunning teaser; an exotically plumed pre-show tassel-twirling whip-wielding pre-op PVC clad big-breasted transvestite burlesque performer of an EP.
It titillated and aroused, luring us into the sick and sleazy world inhabited by Hank Ray and The Raymen. It hardened us to their dirty mutated sound, shook us violently from the roots and left us baying for more. Death’s Black Train was a salty taste of much bigger things to come.
The tease is over and the long anticipated new album, Sinister Funtime, is finally due for release on 19th April (the anniversary of the death of the wicked Lord Byron). With the passing of one form of wickedness, another is born. Just as ‘Long Tall Shadow with Fire Eyes’ paid homage to Lux Interior on the aforementioned Death’s Black Train, you know this mother is set to deliver on every god damned level as soon as you notice the tip of the hat to Blind Lemon Jefferson with ‘Snake House Moan Blues’.
“Well, little baby Jesus cut his wrist Said he just couldn’t go on like this” With a sock to the jaw delivery, this platter showers you with everything the EP promised plus some very pleasing surprises to boot. The album is a true ghoul B-movie monster classic, stitched together from the decaying rotted corpses of dead rock ‘n’ roll royalty. The creature is horrific yet mesmerizing to look upon. Once you gaze into the maddening eyes of this beast, it is nearly impossible to break away. It will hold you in its hypnotic grasp, bend you to your knees and force you to do its evil will.
horrific yet mesmerizing to look upon
Sinister Funtime is twisted and wretched. The whole album is a crazed booze-fuelled sex-beat for delinquents everywhere. It will make you want to guzzle bottles of cheap red wine with Absinthe chasers, snort forbidden substances, slash your throbbing chest with broken glass, jump around uncontrollably like a mescaline crazed savage, smash broken pool cues over innocent bystanders’ heads and auto-asphyxiate in a wardrobe full of stained latex in a dirty, sleazy, lonely back street hotel room. It is a lesson for teenagers and a warning for adults.
Listeners beware. The Raymen come out fighting on this filthy piece on vinyl and offer you no less than thirteen (what else?) sick rock ‘n’ roll tracks to choose from. Be en garde, the first three come at you hard and fast in a turbo charged high-velocity assault of rocking beats. They get the first jaw crunching punch in with ‘Nevada Blitz’, uppercut you with ‘Goodbye Goodbye Gun’, then smash you with a sweet right hook to the head on ‘Slave to the Sickness called Love’. If you are still standing after this barbaric onslaught, it becomes clear the album is a pure exhibition match.
“Smells like diesel smoke and burns in my eyes” All the tracks (including nougats from the Death’s Black Train EP) are musical gemstones. Every twisted hoodoo-voodoo chord and pumping psycho-death beat is skillfully executed.
Ooh ma-ma, ‘Tightrope Walk Over Fire’ shakes a shrunken headed topped voodoo stick at The Trashmen and virtually out-Cramps The Cramps (Lawd forgive me), whilst tracks six, ‘Intoxicated’ and thirteen, ‘Ugly Inside’, make you feel like the last suicidal no-hoper drunk in a dimly lit bar in Nowheresville, sipping neat Tennessee whisky, chaining a pack of Lucky Strikes and weeping whilst getting sucked off by the waitress. (I’m sure somewhere in ‘Intoxicated’ there is an ultra discreet nod to The Revels’ ‘Intoxica’, although this could be my wild imagination).
“Too cold to burn Too light to sink Too hot to freeze Too dumb to think” ‘Ugly Inside’ is a beautiful sad lonely lament with some exquisite guitar work that drips hot salty post ejaculation tears over Ray’s down and dirty baritone drawl (it would not be out of place on Nick Cave’s new album).
“When Jeannie drives a razor up on Sally’s thighs And Quick Joey Small’s contemplating suicide They feel so ugly inside” Sinister Funtime slices open the soft underbelly of American trash culture, rips out the diseased star spangled heart and pokes at the fatty entrails with post-adolescent humor. The echoes of Cash, Presley and Interior can all be heard in the deathly zombified graveyard gravel of Ray’s unique vocal tone whilst the ghostly spirit of Link Wray himself seems to have been invoked to wrap his boney spectral hands around the fretboards of The Raymen’s guitars, hitting those eerie distorted rumble chords for all they’re worth. Compared to this unholy silver bullet from Berlin offered by The Raymen, all other modern day death/blues/country/psycho rockabilly bands have the consistency of a wet tuna fish sandwich.
If you thought the original essence of said death/blues/country/psycho rockabilly was dead, this most surely is a rebirth. Long live shock ‘n’ roll.
*Not to be played to insecure teenagers.
Die alten Haudegen um Hank Ray haben sich mal wieder übertroffen.
“Sinister Funtime” ist ihr mittlerweile 16. Album, und wie gewohnt gibt es Death-Country, Psychobilly, Garage, Trash, Surf, Goth-Sound und Swamp-Blues mit viel Voodoo-Power. Wie erwartet ist das Album ein rifflastiges Soundbad mit knurrigem Gesang von Hank Ray und verstörenden Texten voller Voodoo, Schlangen und jeder Menge Horror.
Es gibt weißen Rauch für “Sinister Funtime”
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water The Raymen spew out a vile dirty thick oil-slick from the depths of prehistoric mystery in the form of Death’s Black Train.
This bullet from Berlin does not relent. From the dark and driving ‘Flame On’ to ‘Long Tall Shadow’, the EP delivers the corpse of Psycho/Country/Death/Swamp/Blues Billy in a jacked-up metal flake hearse to Baron Frankenstein’s laboratory. It gives you no choice; it demands to live and drives you to the very edge of sanity as the sparks of electricity fly from the turntable.
With fifteen albums since 1985 under their belt of shrunken heads, this hoodoo voodoo blend proves beyond doubt that lunacy lives and fear still lurks in these dark and dangerous velvety vinyl grooves.
No, they’re not a “Cramps wannabe band” but Hank Ray’s dark haunting vocals call to you like the ghost of the dearly departed Lux Interior, beckoning you to cross over to the other, more mysterious, side of the universe. As you fall to your knees tearfully masturbating to ‘Weird Generation’, the vision of Interior will surely come to you as you climax during those final echoing beats.
‘City Of The Living Dead’ transports you into the kitschiest Zombie B-Movie you’ve ever seen whilst the reanimated cadaver of Johnny Cash slips a guitar on one last time for ‘Death Black Train’. And when you think this cake just can’t be iced, The Fuzztones’ very own Rudi Protrudi provides backing vocals on the haunting ‘Long Tall Shadow (With Fire Eyes)’.
Marzipan with royal icing and fucking cherries on top.
If you don’t buy it you will die, if you do buy it you will die.
You may as well buy it and die happy.
Black Milk (a fix of)
l suono è criptico e bastardo, come sempre. Da trenta anni, una sicurezza. Una delle poche che ci sono rimaste. Death’s Black Train anticipa di qualche mese quello che sarà il dodicesimo album della più crampsiana delle band berlinesi, presentandone due estratti e aggiungendo tre brani altrimenti inediti.
Rockabilly dall’oltretomba. Hank Ray è il medium capace di attivare il transfert che ci permette di ascoltare la voce di Elvis. Direttamente dall’Inferno. Tex Napalm, T-Base e Tommy Favorite ne amplificano la forza espressiva alitando su questa miscela malvagia di swamp-blues e rockabilly.
Un treno che corre lungo i binari che conducono fino al girone di Jeffrey Lee Pierce, Rowland S. Howard e Lux Interior (a cui è dedicata la conclusiva, lentissima, spettrale “Long Tall Shadow With Fire Eyes” che vede il cameo inudibile di Mr. Rudi Protrudi).
Un guaito necrofilo che striscia tra le mura di casa, come fosse l’ ultimo alito di Johnny Cash.
Tex Napalm - Guitar
T-Base - Bass
Tommy Favorite - Drums