December is a weird release month with several different scenarios of release strategies. On the one hand: HOLIDAY RELEASES!!! And on the other hand: dumping ground. But also, and more often than not, a December (Same with January, btw) release can also fall under “Option C” wherein the band/label in question is so confident in their music and fans that they could release an album out of thin air and with no promotion and still people would be out in droves to find it first.
With RAT WARS, Los Angeles’ HEALTH definitely falls into that last category.
There’s something transcendent about this new HEALTH material. Can you get even more otherworldly??? If yes, then that’s what HEALTH did with RAT WARS which may just be their best yet… which is saying a LOT considering their output thus far! We’ve had the record for some time and have been holding off on this here review until we got a little closer to its’ release date and can safely say, having heard it several times through now, it’s kind of a masterpiece and easily our favorite HEALTH record to date.
“DEMIGODS” is airy and crushing and very reminiscent of the way Front Line Assembly used to utilize guitars in their recordings with Millennium in particular coming to mind and the sampling of Dimebag Darrell riffs and Devin Townsend accompaniment. Then just before the 5-minute mark, “DEMIGODS” completely changes in tone (Think 3TEETH) and we’ve heard it plenty and still check to see if it’s a different song with the way Jacob Duzsik’s guitars create a massive wall of sound. “FUTURE OF HELL” is a righteous stomp from BJ Miller starting with an aural onslaught of noise that permeates throughout before a powerful pummeling arrives toward song’s end and segues nicely into “HATEFUL” which has been doing the rounds in our offices to the point that it’s one where we need to lay off so as not to ruin it forever. But we’re almost sure that’s not the case for this techno organic thumper as John Famiglietti’s bass and Miller’s drumming throb along and then flow effortlessly into “(OF ALL ELSE)” which just moves.
“CRACK METAL” is old school late ’80’s Industrial that’s like Hypo Luxa era Ministry (Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste especially) crossed with Broken-era NIN but with Duzsik’s soaring and almost soulful vocal delivery setting it apart from the more abrasiveness of that time. Spinning out of that NIN comparison comes “UNLOVED” with a Famiglietti-led low end beginning akin to something off Pretty Hate Machine but swerves into a more modern Pet Shop Boys-like jam with the Electro/Dance broadness of it all. Lamb Of God’s Willie Adler stops on by to add some monstrous guitar heft to “CHILDREN OF SORROW” which pairs nicely with “SICKO” and, getting back to our FLA samples mention, takes a portion of Godflesh’s legendary “Like Rats” for one monstrous duo of songs.
“ASHAMED” is a somber, touching Pop ballad almost that’d be oh so right for terrestrial radio if that were a thing anymore followed by “(OF BEING BORN)” and its’ similar themes. “DSM-V” is a mechanical shredder and another that hearkens back to the heyday of Industrial but in HEALTH’s case it’s some next level futuristic fanfare that you can dance, headbang, mosh, stomp, and just move and groove to all at the same time. Closing out the RAT WARS is “DON’T TRY” coming full stop into Post-Punk melancholy for a shimmering atmospheric end to one helluva fantastic album.
RAT WARS arrives through Loma Vista on December 7th. You can pre-order yours now by heading here and then follow the trail of socials to find out when you can catch them on their upcoming just announced North American tour, which stops at Boston’s Royale next St. Patrick’s Day (3/17), by clicking here, here, or here.