Rabbits: 'Lower Forms'

Rabbits

Lower Forms (Relapse)

Talk about a misleading band name. There's absolutely nothing cute or cuddly about Rabbits, the dark, rambunctious Portland, Ore.-based sludge metal trio responsible for Lower Forms.

For all intents and purposes, this is a metal album, plain and simple: a loud, noisy clatter filled with black-hole distortion, demented screams, and an unwavering sense of paranoia and darkness. Frontman Sethro's nauseating bellowing comes across like the death cries of a stabbing victim with a sore throat. What's worse, Rabbits have a tough time coughing up any decent riffs—the whole album is virtually written in one key and with a handful of de-tuned chords, with little to no sonic variation connecting the individual parts.

Stick around long enough, though, and you'll find a few surprises—"Duck, the Pig" features some nifty gallows wah-wah and a bad-ass demolition march. Elsewhere, drummer KG provides rhythmic relief with his nimble work behind the kit, elevating some otherwise relatively flat tracks, like opener "Burn, Sun, Burn," into something more dynamic and off-putting. Instead of relying on generic double-bass pedal heft or mind-numbing tom rolls, his playing dares to venture beyond cliché.

Rabbits sure do whip up a mighty racket, but how about some songs next time?