Scampering out of Portland, Oregon minus a bassist, regard for convention and a care in the world, the curiously named Rabbits have just deposited their new album “Bites Rites” on an unsuspecting public through Good To Die Records. As far removed from the cute, cuddly images their name inspires as it’s possible to get, Rabbits deal in abrasive, irreverent noise-rock that will probably piss off more people on package tours than label bosses would like. But the feeling that this is wholly intentional lingers throughout the record, as Rabbits are solely concerned with digging deeper into their scuzz-filled warren and tossing out clumps of sonic dirt in our faces to care.
A buzzing drone opens ‘We and Zoo’, which details a lovely day out at the zoo. Or rather what would happen if you were to follow a sloppier Unsane into the lion’s den as the snotty vocals and displaced arrangements suggest that the outcome is anyone’s guess. ‘Fight Right’ gradually builds in intensity as layers of feedback coalesce around a monotonous riff that could have featured on a Nirvana B-Side circa 1989. The all too brief ‘Lame in Vain’ sounds too angry for its own good as the blunt-force of its Melvins indebted attack clobbers you round the head over and over again. Next track ‘Move Her Body’ is even shorter, barely scraping the one minute mark, but manages to pack enough punked-up aggression into its brief running time to leave you nursing your wounds and asking for more.
The grinding sludge of ‘Meth Valley 99’ is the equivalent of being trapped in a Today is the Day themed nightmare that refuses to stop throwing jarring sheets of noise at seemingly random intervals at your quivering form until it ends abruptly to make way for a disjointed cover of Spaceman 3’s ‘2.35’ that again coats everything in a bristly layer of feedback, either to quash or add weight to the sense that the bands’ instruments could just fall to pieces at any moment. The feral violence of early 80’s hardcore punk is used to up the aggression levels of ‘Suck It or Blow’ before slowing down to a hate-filled crawl. An unnecessary outro track fades into an emphatic cover of Husker Du’s ‘What’s Going On’ that sounds like it was recorded in a collapsing steelworks.
How Rabbits were able to create a record this noisy without the aid of bass player is a puzzling question, and it’s probably a good thing they made it a short one at only 26 minutes as it’s unlikely they’ll win many friends with their fuck-off attitude and uncompromising sound. But those who worship the Jesus Lizard will find their hands drawn into this petting zoo all too easily.