"Lower Forms"

by Thor

On “Lower Forms”, the latest album by Portland, Oregon’s Rabbits, the group channels classic Black Sabbath with a vintage sound and big, fuzzed-out riffs full of doom and gloom.  While Sabbath weaved in and out of their riff storm with overt jazz and blues passages, Rabbits replaces that with punk rock overtones to cut their doom.  The results are a mixed bag.

 “Lower Forms” starts strong with the songs “Burn, Sun, Burn” and “A Tale of Tales” which feature huge riffs and an up-tempo punk rock backbone, respectively.  There are some nasty wah-laden guitar solos thrown in and the overall effect is full of old school attitude and crusty as toast.  But soon the album finds a rut and loses its energy.  The middle tracks become monotonous and repetitive.  “Lower Forms” ends on a strong note, but by that time numbness makes it difficult to get excited again.

Vocally, there isn’t a lot going on in the way of dynamics and this contributes to the static middle-song doldrums.  There are two vocalists and collectively their style is a bit like Matt Pike’s, from High on Fire, but much less interesting and focused.  Another strange element is the drummer’s blast beats that seem jarring and inorganic.  Several times throughout the album, Rabbits build a monolithic vibe with giant riffage and pounding drums, slamming over and over again like huge ocean waves and then, inexplicably, the group breaks into a sloppy punk rock blast part, and the wall of water dries up instantly.  It’s an odd creative choice to say the least.

There are large elements of the album that are extremely successful.  At its best, “Lower forms” is an extremely angry Sabbath-style doom machine, smashing the planet with monster riffs of the heaviest order.  At its worst, the album is boring and unimaginative, lacking the energy to thoroughly captivate throughout its entirety.  Again, it’s a mixed bag.  However, fans of doom and sludge may want to take a gamble.