With the exception of a few greats, Christian music boasts a hodgepodge of musical genres that do nothing more than mimic what the world is currently doing. But occasionally a band rises to show that we are a "peculiar people" and Blaster the Rocketman is indeed a peculiar group. Although reviewers and fans alike have often compared Blaster to the Dead Kennedys and the Dickies, there really isn't a band that one can compare these guys to adequately. One can hear influences of the Dead Kennedys, but these guys have stated in interview after interview that they rarely listened to the Dead Kennedys or the Dickies. Although most want to quickly label them punk rock, what is being hashed out in a small Indiana community church basement has nothing to do with what most people call "punk rock." Their music is too profound and far too creative for that.
The Monster Who Ate Jesus is a brilliant follow-up to Blaster and the Rocketboys' more pubescent Succulent Space Food... of 1995. These Rocketboys have done a lot of growing in the past four to five years, and it is appropriate that the name change to Rocketman should come when it did. They've grown.
The album is far more professional than the Christian underground is used to. The musicianship, although limited instrumentally, far exceeds anything most punk bands ever achieve, with the exception of possibly Rocket From the Crypt. Recorded in about a week with the same production crew as the last few Hunington albums, Blaster's Monster is sure to amaze even the unappreciative. The album begins where the last one ended, with a glorious gang chant of the "Destroys" from "Deploy all Monsters" and "The Time Machine," which calls for the destruction of everything, from their own record label to Elvis Presley.
But just when you're thinking nothing has changed except a vowel and a couple of consonants, the Rocketmen break into "It Came from Down South," a short country instrumental. The album shifts into a pop-punk sound (something like the Ramones teaming up with Rocket from the Crypt) for "Hopeful Monsters are Dying Everyday!" a critique of the Macro-evolutionary theory that Stephen Jay Gould revived almost two decades ago. These guys have never sounded so polished. A head dive from there lands onto the cow-punk "Stampede," which is reminiscent of Crux's "Farming in Beijing" with a little Neil Fallon of Clutch feel on the vox. My favorite is "Human Fly Trap (our hero escapes from Venus)," an incredibly thick wave of surf splashing the face, complete with keyboards and guitar picking that would make Man or Astro Man? scream for more. The album shifts once again into the dark, driven guitar of "Ransom vs. the Unman," which is very strongly showing a Master of Puppets influence and an Earth A.D. personality. The other upbeat tracks include the power of "Disasteroid" and the satirical "I Like Lycanthropy," which boast chants for the kids to throw their fists in the air and yell along. The surfy "March of the Macrobes" is an amazing critique of evolution based on the C.S. Lewis novel That Hideous Strength. This song boasts some of the best guitar and drum work on the album and the most brilliant change ups I've heard on any punk album. Other creative tracks include "Lovebot's Revenge" and the Squirrel Nut Zippers-esque Dixieland swing of "Frankenstein's Monster Wants a Wife."
The album ends with a repetitive chant not unlike the ending of Circa: Now on "Baby Unvamp." The passion of the album is superb. Once the Monster has you, you are not easily released. The tracks go from surfy, to driven, to creative, and back into the typical pop-punk style of the good ol' days. If you're missing what punk rock was, typical punk style mixed with raw creativity, then this album is for your music library.
Todd Ballard 10/16/99
What do you get when you cross The Ramones, The Crucified, Batman, Neverhood-era Terry Taylor, CS Lewis' space trilogy, They Might Be Giants, bad science fiction movies, Ninety Pound Wuss, and Paradise Lost? A rough version of Blaster the Rocketman's new album!
I'm really not quite sure how to describe The Monster Who Ate Jesus. It's more bizarre and unnerving than any CD I've ever heard, but the band (incredibly) still manages to keep their pop sensibilities intact. For example, amid all the Ramones-style punk that Blaster churns out, there's still time for a Talking Heads-meets-They Might Be Giants swing number, "Frankenstein's Monster Wants a Wife":
She's much too fresh
How does she look?
As you can tell, chief lyricist Otto Bot's compositions aren't exactly conventional, which makes the songs all that more enjoyable to listen to. What's more, they fit into a loose concept of sorts, all centered around (the best I can tell) modern science's attempts to remove God from people's minds (thus the title The Monster Who Ate Jesus). Bot makes some very valid points all the way, drawing heavily from CS Lewis' That Hideous Strength and Out of the Silent Planet. Highlights include the aforementioned "Frankensteinů," as well as "Lovebot's Revenge" and "Stampede!"
The Monster Who Ate Jesus may well end up becoming a cult classic, and is worth the time of any fan of The Ramones, The Talking Heads, or CS Lewis.
Michial Farmer 4/14/2000
It was good to hear that one of the few interesting punk bands today, Blaster the Rocketboy, had signed with Jackson-Rubio and changed their name. Maybe their creativity and lyrical prowess would be given the production and direction it needed to break out of the indie sloppiness that plagued their first two releases.
No such luck. The production is still muddy and the songs still sound all the same. But at least they don't fall into the commercial pop punk rut. This is real-deal old school punk heavily influenced by The Dead Kennedy's, but also by rockabilly and maybe The Misfits, with shaky seizure vocals that spit out their campy horror and sci-fi lyrics with spooky style. Read the lyrics while you listen, and you might forget the crappy mixing job. They transform tales of monsters, aliens, and planets into analogies for sin, spiritual enemies, and our fallen world. Take these lines from "Frankenstein's Monster Wants a Wife":
Why do I abandon my endeavor to sever
And so is punk rock, in the misshapen form of Blaster the Rocketman.
Josh Spencer 4/27/00