Rocket From the Crypt - Live From Camp X-Ray (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Rocket From the Crypt

Live From Camp X-Ray (2002)


"Always hold tight to what you do as long as it screams ‘you'." I've kept this motto close to my heart in my 22, nearly 23 years, helping me steer clear of any potential crap that life and music has tried to shove down my throat…especially when it comes to music. With that said, I was more than happy to pop in my advance copy of the latest Rocket From the Crypt record "Live From Camp X-Ray," which, oddly enough, isn't a live recording. A rather disappointing discovery, ‘cause this record would kick with a little more life if it was captured on stage and in the moment, rather than soaked in sloppy production and forced energy. Rocket strikes me as a band that truly shines when face to face with an audience, which is a wonderful quality in a band, but not the only quality one would want as recording musicians. In fact, the title is merely the final line of the first song "I'm Not Invisible," and there's nothing live on the record (I doubt any of the playing even is). So instead of a sweat-drenched live rock show, it's a mediocre climate-controlled studio album. But not all of "Live From Camp X-Ray" is undeserving of attention, this fortunately is not the case at all for the Cleveland sextet.

"I'm Not Invisible" is a great opening song with a meaty guitar hook, and a first verse I'd expect from a band toting the name Rocket From the Crypt. "Oh we gotta go/ We gotta leave right now/ Opportunity knocks so let's barge on in/ I wanna beat the door down/ Just to look inside/ Our vital signs look good but our chances are slim." In fact, only two other songs actually rocked me instead of left me pained from punk rock cliché after punk rock cliché. "I Can't Feel My Head" is the sound they should stick with, showing off the little vocal talent of singer Speedo, and actually using the two horns that are employed for some strange reason, for they are absent and mixed down the entire record. The Les Paul crunch and grit of this band is pulled off perfectly on "Bring us Bullets," which makes me wonder why they were unable, or unwilling, to capture the same attitude or at least apply the same formula to the rest of the record. "Can You Hear It" is nauseatingly predictable, "I Wanna Know What I Wanna Know" has a synthesized string arrangement that it just too much to bear, and "Bucket of Piss" is boring tough-guy-pseudo-greaser punk rock shite.

Ehh, is all the reaction this record provokes. It's a real shame that "Live From Camp X-Ray" isn't just that, for it would've saved even my least favorite track on this record. Rocket could definitely have spent more time fine-tuning the music, for punk anthems are a dime a dozen and only a few are really that good. But songwriting aside, the bland mixing is the coldest nail in the coffin for this latest offering from RFTC. Horns need a purpose in the band and they shouldn't be pushed into the back of the right speaker, two guitar players should sound like two guitar players (even if they're on the same part) and nobody mixes drums to sound like Tommy Lee anymore, but then again, maybe I'm missing the point and Rocket From the Crypt are holding tight to who they are, even if it means screaming, "Bucket of piss/ And I'm proud of it."