Abolitionist / Rubrics - Split [7-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Abolitionist / Rubrics

Split [7-inch] (2014)

Different Kitchen Records / 18

I always find it intriguing as to how some bands come to be brought together on a split release. Of course there can be myriad of reasons for Band A and Band B to hook up and decide to work together, but on the face of it I'm not sure I would ever have put Portland' OR's Abolitionist together with Greenville, SC's Rubrics, but then what do I know– I've heard most, if not all, of Abolitionist's previous material and consider myself a fan whereas with Rubrics the only thing I have by them is the Sow Your Seeds EP and my initial recollection was that it was ok. This release actually changes my view on both bands.

The last new thing I heard from Abolitionist was The Growing Disconnect album, on which the band had a sound that at times gave me cause to think of The Freeze. However, it seems as if the members of Abolitionist have been taking steroids or some kind of musical enhancer as the three tracks on this split have much more muscle and power to them, and as such they leave me reeling when running through them. It's noticeable just from the opening seconds of "Don't Drone Me, Bro," a track that has a thunder to it and which sets the standard for the other two tracks which follow. Of these, "Consider Someone Else" is another true barnstormer and features the simple but effective lyrics "We're not the centre of the fucking universe / each living being has its own intrinsic worth" which I feel is a pretty good motto to adopt. Therefore, all is good for Abolitionist and it moves them up to a level that is commensurate to a band having even better songs and adding more of a punch to its sound. All in all, I'm massively pleased with what I'm hearing from Abolitionist and my hopes for the next album, Pathogen, have been raised significantly and they were high already.

Rubrics are a whole different proposition. Here is a band that has more of a ramshackle DIY sound which has an early Lookout Records vibe to it, i.e. where other bands seems to have tight borders and boundaries in respect of their music, Rubrics are keen to push these to the limits and in some cases take pleasure from pushing them to breaking point, a sort of organised chaos. It's nothing new really but what they do achieve is to create music that has a sense of abandon to it, with an intent on not being pigeonholed or attached to one particular genre. The five tracks on this split show a band clearly able to avoid regurgitating the exact same sound on each song and for a three piece that is pretty damn remarkable. I must admit that these five songs have had more of a positive impact on me than those on the Sow Your Seeds EP, so hats off to the trio for making me sit up and listen a lot more than I had expected.

Obviously I've caught on now and see that both bands are offering similar messages and are not ready to back down from the fight in terms of all manner of inequities that are faced these days. Neither Abolitionist nor Rubrics come across as shrinking violets and I'd imagine they are of the ilk that will stand up and be counted rather than be trodden on. I can now connect the dots and figure out this pairing and the choice works well.