Like a lot of people, I know very little about Portland (Oregon, U.S.) based outfit Rabbits, apart from what I’ve read online and in fanzines. Some of the reasons behind this come down to the fact that the band is still largely an underground act. But another good reason behind having never heard their music before is because most of their past releases (2006’s ‘Sloth Vs. Bees’ E.P., 2006’s split with Under Mountains, 2010’s ‘Hide’ E.P. and their various live releases) have been released independently, and predominately on vinyl or cassette.
But despite the band’s low profile, Rabbits (Who comprise of vocalists/guitarists Joshua ‘Booze’ Hughes and Seth ‘Sethro’ Montfort and drummer Kevin Garrison) have managed to sign to Relapse Records, who have released the band’s debut full-length effort ‘Lower Forms’.
In a lot of ways, ‘Lower Forms’ is the kind of album you’re either going to love or hate. Rabbits aren’t the kind of band that is out to reinvent the sludge/doom/hardcore genre in any way, shape or form. Instead, the band seem more hell-bent on stripping music back to its rawest and primitive form, and making it sounds as abrasive, heavy and direct as possible.
And in some part, Rabbits have achieved their objective, with songs such as the opener ‘Burn, Sun, Burn’ combining elements of stoner rock, sludge and traces of hardcore (Which is featured more on the vocal front than anything else) in their purest and most basic level. Flourishes of psychedelic rock appear around the guitar solo, while the drum work presented throughout the song manages to keep it from drifting into the mundane.
The yelled melodic vocals on ‘A Tale Of Tales’ provides a bit of contrast to the pseudo thrash framework of the instrumental section quite well, but tends to get a little too much by the time the band wind up things close to the five minute mark, while ‘We Beat’ is executed with a greater hardcore influence present, which makes the song sound a little more in line with the band’s overall strength and vibe.
The rather short ‘Noise To Share’ and ‘No Depth’ are definite highlights on the album with their chaotic constructions and energy (And not to mention the fact that both are quick and to the point), while the odd melodic vocal structures and the constant tempo shifts on ‘Duck, The Pigs’ provides another worthy effort.
The slower and decidedly more stoner-like heavy groove on ‘Invisibugs’, ‘The Flow Below’ and ‘Weight Here’ are all solid efforts, but lack enough necessary distinctions between verses and choruses to make them stand out as anything really special, while the closer ‘Rot’ does manage to live up to its name in terms of sounding crusty and bruising, but is another track that tends to overstay its welcome by a couple of minutes.
For a debut, ‘Lower Forms’ is good, but hardly revolutionary. If you’re on the look out for something that’s bare bones and basic, then Rabbits may very well have just what you’re looking for. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for something a little more forward thinking and adventurous, this album will only ultimately promise you a headache by its conclusion.
For more information on Rabbits, check out - http://www.rabbitusmaximus.com/
© Justin Donnelly