Freight Train Rabbit Killer is an amalgamation of two Kansas City local legends.
Mark Smeltzer “RabbitKiller” is a diy musician and multimedia artist who also builds his own acoustic instruments. Americana, primitivism and blues influenced folk culture coupled with his ghostly signature rabbit head designs are core elements in his dark and twisted artistic vision.
Whether it’s performing solo, as a duo with his wife Havilah, or with their garage roots rock band “Cadillac Flambé,” Kristopher Bruders has been a force on the KC music scene for decades. His powerful baritone voice resonates in your bones like a warm shot of whisky. But his warmth as a human, both as a performer and supporter/ curator of local music, resonates with many (yours truly included).
For years this power duo has been wowing crowds with their unique form of psych infused minimal blues rock. Their hauntingly masked stage appearances and swampy electrified sound has garnered a loyal local KC fan base, and recently throughout the US and Europe as well.
After a a successful run of four 7 inches in 2019 and some obligatory pandemic setbacks, local KC label Haymaker Records has just released FTRC’s debut LP “Hammer Of Judgement,” on Royal blue vinyl. And I’m happy to say it was well worth the wait!
Over just three nights in a studio in St Paul, MN, accompanied by local KC rhythm section: Fritz Hutchinson on drums and Jason Beers on bass, as well as a small group of friends to help create the special energy of their live shows, the basic tracks for “Hammer Of Judgement” we’re captured.
The southern gothic, psychedelic carnival that is a FTRC live performance seems like a daunting task to capture on record. But amazingly that is just what this crew has managed to do, amazingly in such a relatively short amount of time.
The album kicks off with the up beat psychedelic leaning “Pharmaceuticals” while track two, “Eyes Of the Steamboat Captain” settles into the grinding gear guitar sound that has become a signature for the band.
“Nowadays County Regulators” continues to shovel deep into the sediments of some indescribable nightmare scenario that not even the police can save you from.
The track “Saw Brother Judas” is the quintessential FTRC song. The painful gospel conveyed through Smeltzer’s uniquely tortured and redemptive vocal mixed with distorted bone scraping guitar riffs is the real meat and potatoes magic of this band.
Side A of the record closes out with the back woods stoner rock anthem “You Don’t Love Me Anymore.”
Stand out tracks on side two include the tripped out Black Mass jig “Mush A Ring Along,” the classic blues stomp “Whisky,” and the haunted house rockabilly number “I Wanna Get Down.”
“Hammer Of Judgment” is definitely in the running for my best album of the year! Like any person growing up in Kansas City, I have had to make my peace with blues music as something simply a part of my DNA.
It’s been a long time since a local KC band has managed to express something unique, while staying connected to some of the musical roots that serve as this cities core foundation. That’s exactly what’s happening here. And I for one am grateful! – Major Matt