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Rabid Dogs - "Rabid Dogs" (CD)

Rabid Dogs - "Rabid Dogs" CD cover image

"Rabid Dogs" track listing:

1. Intro
2. Rabid Dogs
3. Sex, Drugs & Corruption
4. Politicians
5. Cop's Blood
6. Gang War
7. The Big Racket
8. Fernet Death Squad
9. Killer Elite
10. The Poo Man
11. Those Of The Uno Bianca
12. Bankrobbers
13. Don Carlos
14. Self-Made Justice
15. A Dangerous Toy

Reviewed by on August 27, 2011

"With a heavy dose of hardcore punk and hints of brutal death metal, “Rabid Dogs” is an album that bounces between disparate genres without sounding too forced or derivative, some of the time."

Italian grind/powerviolence act Rabid Dogs presents its eponymous full-length debut, a 15-track effort inspired by Italian thrillers and exploitation films of the 1970s. With a heavy dose of hardcore punk and hints of brutal death metal, “Rabid Dogs” is an album that bounces between disparate genres without sounding too forced or derivative, some of the time. But sometimes, when a band tries to be too much of everything to everyone, it instead winds up being nothing to no one. Rabid Dogs rides the fence somewhere along this at times unnavigable border.

Getting the album started on some creepy footing is a bizarre harpsichord intro that indeed wouldn't sound out of place in one of the campy horror flicks the band purports to be influenced by. Next up is the title track—blasting grind that's heavy on the snare, with snarling vocals and frequent use of pig squeals. The squeals appear alongside hardcore yells and gang vocals—a combination you don't often hear, making for an interesting match that's all over the map. With one of the members hailing from Italian brutal death machine Corpsefucking Art, it's no wonder why the squeals feature so prominently with the punkier side of the band. “Sex, Drugs, and Corruption” follows with more schizophrenia in the vocal department and that same classic brutal death snare sound that resembles an ax splitting a dry chord of firewood. At times the squeals do seem somewhat superfluous. It's not as though they add anything in the lyrical department. Still, this track has a nice groove to it.

Italian film intros are another oft repeated theme of the album, some of them stretching on past the 30-second mark, which can be a bit grating. “Politicians” is yet another exercise in genre-meshing, and sometimes it can be like listening to two or three different bands jamming in separate rooms at a rehearsal space with thin walls. “Cop's Blood” is boot stomping hardcore with 'tard yells favored by the likes of grind acts such as Weekend Nachos. By this point in the album the observation that just because someone in your band can pull off a flawless pig squeal doesn't mean this particular brand of vocal chord calisthenics should be included in every song is hard to avoid. Sometimes it just isn't called for. “Gang War” is straight ahead grind with some ask-and-answer shouts and yet more squeals. The thing is, when Rabid Dogs sticks to hardcore or grind, they do it well. But when they constantly bounce back and forth between the punk part of their sound and the brutal elements, with the two being in such stark contrast, the elements sometimes slam together all too haphazardly. But you can't deny the groove or the mosh factor.

Moving on, “The Big Racket” features nonsensical screams and squeals with some catch to the riffage, and a shout along chorus for the crowd. The squeals always crash the party though. “Fernet Death Squad” has a rapid fire vocal delivery over simple blasting grind, speed, and hardcore scat to get the audience amped up. Rabid Dogs are no strangers to old dog tricks, and the shout along chorus is one of their favorites, as it makes another appearance in this one. “Killer Elite,” meanwhile, seems socially conscious and pissed off. The band could do with more visceral anger and fewer squeals and camp, unless of course the squeals are some surrealist expression of anguish and anger. Are Rabid Dogs rebelling against absurdity with yet more absurdity? Is this giving them too much credit, or not enough?

Street punk makes an appearance as well on “Those of the Uno Bianca,” with its mix of desperation and cynicism melded with satire. With Rabid Dogs, you never quite know if you're going to get the wink or the gun barrel. Then “Bankrobbers” spews rage violently in all directions through a few scattered filters, changing directions at irregular intervals. And were those some “ois” in there? “Self-Made Justice” and “A Dangerous Toy” close out the album, and the novelty of grind and hardcore with continuous squeals has officially worn thin. It's interesting, but needs refinement to put the pieces together and sand down the frayed edges. All influences don't need to be displayed so overtly at all times. As a case in point, the final track even features some punk rock George Thorogood blues and a random jam fade out. Sometimes, a little subtlety can go a long way.

Highs: The straight grind and punk parts are beyond reproach.

Lows: Squeals, always with the squeals.

Bottom line: Its still very early in the game for Rabid Dogs, and there's little doubt they'll find the right mix in their sound.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)