The Dead Rabbitts


Written by: TL on 26/08/2014 23:10:27

Before becoming the lead singer in Escape The Fate, Arizona-native Craig Mabbitt helped lay the foundations for Blessthefall to become the quintessential metalcore band they went on to be for the better part of a decade, and he even hung around The Word Alive for a bit before their final formation saw his place taken by Tyler Smith. So as we turn our gaze on his new side-project The Dead Rabbitts - featuring a journeyman cast in form of bassist TJ Bell of Escape The Fate and Motionless In White; guitarist Alex Torres of Eyes Set To Kill, Greeley Estates and Alesana and touring drummer Rob Pierce - there is perhaps some irony to be found in the fact that it sees Mabbitt return to the sound he eventually moved on from with Escape The Fate. Regardless, that seems the shameless ambition - to make metalcore in its purest definition. Forget technical metalcore, progressive metalcore, electronic metalcore or similar extension tags. The debut album "Shapeshifter" wants to channel only the genre's pure essence, and whether you think Mabbitt's affiliation with the line-up circus that is Escape The Fate adds or detracts from his character, it's hard not to hear this record and concede that in this territory, his new band knows what it's doing.

Swearing loyally and exclusively to the very traditional yin yang dynamic, heavy parts and catchy melodic refrains exchange blows in a slugfest that actually feels well connected in its moves back and forth. Starting with the cleans, Mabbitt has an advantage over a vast majority of metalcore singers by performing with a voice that is unmistakeably his own, so you know exactly who you're listening to in the choruses, which are consistently good enough that you can see yourself picking them up and singing them back even if you heard them for the first time in a live setting. Admittedly, a good portion of them will hardly linger in your memory past the expiration of each song, but especially in the more anthemic numbers like "Edge Of Reality", "Black Cloud" or "Make Me Believe It", you get the feeling that they could grow some longevity upon return listens. The latter song features Beartooth frontman (and former Attack! Attack! singer) Caleb Shomo - who also produced the album - on guest vocals, and perhaps it is his touches that sound a bit like KoRn's glitchyness in the back of the track. Sadly though, as an overall component, "Shapeshifter"'s melodic half suffers from a lack of remarkable instrumental melodies ("Edge Of Reality" being an exception) and it's hard not to consider it weaker than for instance any given Blessthefall record in its absence of any particularly blazing riffage.

This becomes neglectable though, for while the songs on here are clearly chorus-centric in structure, this feels like The Dead Rabbitts merely recognising the demands of radio and online listeners and addressing them in solid, business-like fashion. Where the band has its fun however, is in the almost comically heavy parts that cake the whole record in the sort of down-tuned pummeling that is built for mosh pits. At its best, "Shapeshifter"'s heavy aspect is ridiculous and will unfailingly manifest as bricks in your boxing gloves and as temporary growth hormone to your lower brain functions. It's the kind of thing you listen to and hear a distant voice of conscience in your brain thanking God that there are no baseball bats around, because otherwise you'd be seconds away from breaking shit with a gleeful grin. "Deer In The Headlights" and "Keep Tellin' Yourself You Were Right" are the cardinal examples of this working out, with the latter exposing the band's shameless revelling in depravity by following the scornful lyrics of "Whatever keeps you up at night" with the recognisable *kosh* and opening sip of a beer can.

And yes. Of course this recipe is much too simple to sustain an engaging impression the whole way through an eleven track album. If you counted them, "Shapeshifter" would likely have as many moments where you feel like it's running stagnantly in circles as ones where the testosterone really gets you clenching and fist-pumping. And as far as appeal goes, Mabbitt's youthful, sleazy clean vocals will - despite their undeniable charisma - flash like the fluttering sound of pink ballet skirts in the ears of traditional metal fans. The record is for the Warped Tour segment first and foremost. But when that's said the way it pulls off metalcore's most basic dynamic so routinely is stupidly compelling - and more importantly downright fun - in a world where many younger bands struggle to solve this single task with even a smidge of the necessary bravado. The good parts, though matched by the weak ones in quantity, outweigh them in brutal efficiency, not at least via a diverse and expertly arranged assortment of varied screams, growls, bleurghs and similar vulgar throat noises. So for those that want to flick the brain completely off, down their pints in one sip, launch the cup in the air and just throw down mindlessly - The Dead Rabbitts have here made the essential soundtrack. No more. No less.


Download: Deer In The Headlights, Keep Tellin' Yourself You Were Right, Make Me Believe It, Edge Of Reality
For The Fans Of: Blessthefall, Adept, Yashin, The Word Alive, Bury Tomorrow

Release date 01.07.2014
Tragic Hero Records

Related Items | How we score?
comments powered by Disqus


© Copyright MMXXII