Rabbits – Untoward | Review

For some strange reason I've passed on Rabbits up until now. I don't know why but I thought they were a powerviolence band or something. That couldn't be further from the truth. Well, there is ample power and it can get violent but Untoward, the latest full-length from this Portland group is more methodical than manic.

The trio of drummer KG and guitarist/vocalists Sethro and Booze use sludge as a base for crafting a noisy racket. It reeks of spilled whiskey, bloody teeth and a sticky basement floor. There's a raw, DIY feel to it despite sounding pretty slick that gives the album an indescribable charm.

KG lays down the heavy beats with the necessary unconventionality that matches the eclectic interplay between Sethro and Booze. But at the same time he's smashin' those skins like they owe him money. You can almost picture the twisted grin and wild eyes morphing into furrowed brows and back again as the track dictates.

There's even more of a mind-body-instrument connection felt with the guitars. They win at the tone game with a beefy sludge sound. With it comes a barrage of pulsing riffs spliced to noisy atonality and ample groove. The two guitars don't so much mate with each other as much as they feed off each other's energy. One takes the high road of broken chords and repetitive hypnotism while the other winds around the whole like a serpent tempting the listener to fall deeper down the unholy uh, rabbit hole. But if only it were that simple.

Rabbits lull the listener into a trance and then get all crazy or blitzing or belligerent, snapping the attention back to the immediate crush of filth violating your ears. Comparisons to the Melvins aren't unwarranted either.

Vocally speaking you wouldn't expect anything less than the coarse yelling that's found here. The lyrics are kind of all over the place in a good way but none of it fails to make you feel good on the inside. As hollered on “Pack Up Your Shit” they “drink and fucking cuss” so you get the idea. It's like having a pair of drunk uncles pointing their fingers in your face as they recount life lessons still unlearned.

Untoward stuns and disorients, hypnotizes and invigorates. Swampy riffs, marching pulses and a noisy thunder all marry up with a handful of mental illnesses and warm, inviting tone to take the listener on a trip they weren't expecting. Especially the ten and a half-minute closing dirge of “Like You A Lot”. Total schizo zone out.

It might sound challenging or downright painful but once you get over the initial shock and let the eclecticism seep into your pores it's actually quite fun! Or maybe we're all just a little “out there”.

Matt Hinch

Band info: www.facebook.com/RabbitusMaximus
Label info: www.facebook.com/LambUnlimited

Matt Hinch lives an unassuming life on the backroads outside Forest Mills, Ontario, Canada. He packs in as much metal as he possible can amid factory work, raising three daughters with his wife and working the land. In addition to Scratch the Surface Matt also writes for Hellbound, Metal Bandcamp, About Heavy Metal and his own blog, Kingdom of Noise.
Keep up with him on Twitter @KingdomofNoise.