Audit in Progress is Hot Snakes' third outing, and the first to include ex-Sea of Tombs drummer Mario Rubalcaba. It's a much more focused album, too, bottling up the energy created by rapid-fire drums and two chaotic guitars, only to unleash it in the explosive moments not dominated by Rick Froberg's captivating yelp. After two relentless openers, the Snakes downshift into the dynamic stops and starts of "Retrofit." There could be some influence from guitarist John Reis' Rocket from the Crypt here, in the way the song winds punk tight only to let go of the top. But it's he and Froberg's Drive Like Jehu that comes most often to mind on Audit in Progress, from the crosshatched guitars to the explosive rhythm section in Rubalcaba and bassist Gar Wood. Hot Snakes' previous albums sported these elements, too, but they also had patches of howling noise and a generally manic quality that was addicting for some, but too insanely driven for most. Audit doesn't take any breaks, either. But it uncovers melody in the strangest places, and sweats with an addicting fury. "I pay nothin' for nothin'," Froberg sneers over the title track's choking power chords. "Audit me/Audit me/I don't give a sh*t." Not everything here pounds you over the head. "This Mystic Decade" is relatively more subdued at first, that is until its rhythm section comes to life, drowning out the dulled-down guitars as Froberg screams the chorus like an anthem. And "Lovebirds" unleashes a gritty organ effect that plays off wrangled and tense spy guitar fills. Audit in Progress ends strong with three stamping machine rockers, their stuttering drum pound and devastatingly effective guitars rising to snap and hiss in between the yelping cool vocals of Froberg. Overall, it's a record with a lot to offer for the indie rock purists still spinning their Jehu records a decade later. But it's also an example of making a cleanly focused rock album in the 21st century that doesn't need a hyphenated term to describe it. Audit in Progress? It just stings.
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AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus