Casting the Runes: From the Battle of Clontarf to the Gates of Valhalla

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Casting the Runes: From the Battle of Clontarf to the Gates of Valhalla Review

by Alex Henderson

In the 21st century, punk and Southern rock seem like a perfectly logical combination thanks to Southern-fried alternative metal bands such as Alabama Thunderpussy and Hammerlock. But there was a time when punk encountered considerable resistance in Texas and the Deep South; for example, the highly influential Sex Pistols were booed during a show in Dallas in early 1977. Obviously, a lot has changed since then -- and when the Lexington, KY-based Hookers were together in the '90s and early 2000s, they brought a hell-raisin' good ol' boy attitude to their blend of punk, heavy metal/hard rock, and Southern rock. There are parallels between this two-CD set and albums by Alabama Thunder Pussy and Hammerlock, but the Hookers' punk/hard rock/Southern rock blend isn't quite as heavy. Nonetheless, Casting the Runes: From the Battle of Clontarf to the Gates of Valhalla demonstrates that the Hookers were a very intense, hard-rocking band -- not to mention crude, obnoxious, abrasive, raucous, and totally in your face. That load and proud approach serves them well on original material (which dominates this retrospective) as well as inspired covers of Deep Purple's "Highway Star," the Misfits' "Halloween," AC/DC's "TNT," and Uriah Heep's "Look at Yourself." No one can accuse this collection of '90s and early-2000s recordings of not being generous; there are 56 tracks altogether, and Casting the Runes lasts more than two hours and 20 minutes. Disc one contains most of the band's previously released recordings, including many of their vinyl-only releases -- and disc two is full of previously unreleased material and live rarities that are offered with die-hard fans in mind. For casual listeners, 56 tracks is a lot to absorb. But then, a release this comprehensive isn't meant for casual listeners. Casting the Runes is for the Hookers' truly hardcore fans, who will find a lot to enjoy about this double disc.

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