It’s a bold move as musicians to take on alter egos and religiously stay in character, perennially rocking outlandish outfits and morose masks. However bold it may be, Kansas City doom blues rockers Freight Train Rabbit Killer (FTRK) gladly take it on.
Dubbed an American Roots Opera, the duo is manned by Kris Bruders and Mark Smeltzer, Freight Train and Rabbit Killer respectively. The theatrical psych-sludge rockers are still riding the high off of their new album, Hammer of Judgment, which dropped August 26th.
From the initial pulsing ferocity of the first track “Pharmaceuticals” to the closing Tom Waits-esque waltz of “Will You Dance,” FTRK indeed offer a most unique and heavy rock opera throughout the album. Chock full of swamp and circus-like sounds underneath the gristled bellowing vocals, the one-of-a-kind duo deliver a collection of sounds not often heard.
The opera FTRK exemplifies is that of a shaman of the hills and a vigilante bent on justice. The duo has been performing out of their hometown of Kansas City and beyond, having toured extensively internationally and across the United States.
For Hammer of Judgment, the duo is accompanied by accomplished multi-instrumentalists and solo recording artists Jason Beers and Fritz Hutchison, who provide the “hammer” of drums and bass. The Hammer of Judgment recording session was a one-of-a-kind pseudo-live studio album, utilizing an interactive crowd of dedicated fans experiencing the recording process first-hand with all the bells and whistles of a professional recording studio. Tickets were sold in advance, and the session was captured at GFM Modern Recording in Blue Springs, Missouri in April 2019.
Post-production work, a global pandemic, and national independent record pressing delays pushed the release back three years from the recording date, but the end results made it worth the wait.
Haymaker Records proudly took on the unique project, and after all that time in the vault, the gothic glory that is Hammer of Judgment has finally come down with a thunderous impact. It is the second full-length album for the band, and the first full-length on vinyl. Haymaker Records previously partnered with FTRK for the four 7-Inch Wake Snake Death Dance record series.
The band is currently playing Muddy Roots Fest in Cookeville, Tennessee, this weekend with more touring on the books ahead.
If you’re tired of the same old same old and are on an endless hunt for something raw, visceral, and untamed, look no further than the American roots opera that is Freight Train Rabbit Killer.