Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
We're not quite sure what's gotten to Hayley Helmericks. It's something gristly, something that eats at you like corrosive chemicals, something that leads to a slow and painful end. Then again, perhaps it doesn't. It just seems like it might. The lead singer for the Denver, Colorado, band is a woman who has been exposed to the darker sides of the human condition and she's not turned away, but rather leaned in, wiped the wax out of her eyes and tried to get a better look at them. She sounds as if she's been consumed by paranoia, by something that's bearing down on her and casting a great shadow. It's a shadow that she doesn't cower from though, one that she meets head-on, seeing if it will push her back or if it's just something that she can walk through, like an extra-strength fog. It might just be an obstacle, pawing at her, poking her, seeing what kind of a reaction it can evoke. If the reaction is little or other than what it is looking for in the way of amusement, it will get bored and she'll have won. There's nothing that we like more than a singer, and a band, that dive into dark matters, into the realm of great uncertainty and crawl around in there, on their hands and knees, getting down with it and then putting it all together into a musical thought. Ask anyone and they'll likely admit to enjoying storms, loving the sheer volume and power of incoming thunder and lightning, rattling the windows, the foundation and the doors on their hinges, as the disturbance does what it wants and makes its way across the land like a conquistador.
Snake Rattle Rattle Snake makes a sound that simulates this movement of temporarily epic energy and force. Helmericks makes us feel as if we're in for it, or she's in for it and she's got her eyes split, watching the entrance, looking into all the corners for that something that might sneak out at her. She sings about the darkness in the way that someone who knows that there really is something out there in it to be genuinely frightened of. She respects the darkness and knows that there's a lure and a pull there, something that's impossible to ignore. She sings that in the dark, "Bodies are holding you there," keeping you from getting away. The band builds a lot of purgatory into their songs, letting them roar on with churning passion and reddened cheeks. Helmericks sings with bittersweet awareness that finishes with that bite and that kick in the ass that makes it feel like the work of a tortured soul. The stories are those of wanting and of broken glass, cracked teeth and dried blood in places on our body that are surprising to us - the altercations that led to it spilling at all happening too fast and furious to be remembered. Helmericks offers, "No one ever told me/How you live is how you'll die," and it could be her admonishment to the heavens, every night before she goes to bed, just to set the record straight and to make sure that no one's off the hook for anything that's happening.