When the ex-Guns ‘n Roses boys went trawling for recovering junkies to front Velvet Revolver, maybe Jennifer Herrema would have been a better choice than Scott Weiland. She’s gorgeous, she’s got more magnetism than Axl and she has a way with snarling through a vocoder that’s scary as hell. But they didn’t, and we have RTX to get a metal fix from instead.
Don’t let the Jethro Tull-y opener fool you: Herrema and her boys haven’t gone all prog rock on us for all of Western Xterminator, the second full-length from RTX (which is, of course, Herrema’s post-Royal Trux band). The rest of the album is metal, and she’s grinding the corpse of Royal Trux into bone dust with the heels of her big black boots. Where former partner Neil Michael Hagerty has gone in the experimental direction of the once mighty Trux, Herrema just wants to rock. So let’s salute her.
She took the sleazy lo-fi raunch that made Royal Trux the most insidious band of the ’90s indie-label denizens and kicked it in the groin on Transmaniacon (2004), and Western Xterminator is the big bruise that’s left. These records might isolate her from her Royal Trux fan base, but leave those prejudices aside and just listen to the heavy guitars and down-tuning that perfectly suits Herrema and her viscous forty-cigarettes-a-day voice. Slayer may have laid claim to the phrase “undisputed attitude,” but Herrema and company positively drip with it.
Herrema has found the Randy Rhoades to her Ozzy/Lita in guitarist Jaimo Welch. The riffs on Western Xterminator are chunky, and they scrape low, full of tar and cigarette butts. This is a heavy-metal record in the classic style, stealing bones from the open graves of Black Sabbath.