Rats in the Wall - Dead End (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Rats in the Wall

Dead End (2014)


Brad Logan has been relatively quiet since Leftover Crack slowed down following 2007's Deadline. Little did we know that behind the scenes, he was fiddling with new bands, including Pagan Idols, who never released any official recordings, and several proto-versions of Rats in the Wall. Dead End, the band's first proper LP, shows that all the tinkering and testing was worth it. Logan and crew harness their skills and fashion a release that both salutes the classic tropes of hardcore without falling pray to cliché.

Fittingly, the album opens with Logan's classic roaring guitar. Influenced equally by the Harley-Davidson aping of the first crust punkers as well as the greasy smash of West Coast hardcore like Poison Idea, Logan's guitar has both an edge and soul. At the forefront is that famously nasty buzz, but instead of just being pure string striking like so many other harder punk bands, Logan coats each riff with colors of distortion and modulation, that perhaps by accident, mirror the dedication to texture heard in classic Chicago blues. Call it pretentious to make the connection, but both artists say as much with their notes as they do intonation.

But, this isn't purely a Logan show. The largest portion of vocals are handled by Eva Hall. Like Logan's guitar, Hall knows how to draw the fine line between rage and soul. Certainly, she screams and spits like Eve Libertine of Crass and Meghan O'Neil, formerly of Punch, but she also leaves room for humanity in her delivery. The slight variation between all-out screaming and classic punk howling ala Poly Styere and Alice Bag are what makes Hall both unique and worthy of deliberation. In fact, because Hall has so much style, it brings her lyrics to the forefront, whereas in other bands, the lyrics may be carefully considered, but really dissolve into just another instrument at recording. Hall focuses on fairly standard crust-anarcho themes, such a systemic control and destruction, but because she delivers with such conviction, it sounds more like genuine urgency than sermonizing. Also, the Zounds cover? C'est magnifque!

Logan too delivers one of his finest vocal performances. In F-Minus, Logan relied almost exclusively at his volume 10 bark. He uses that style there too, but at times, he treads into a huskier and even more tuneful voice. The fact is, everyone knows that Logan has got one of the meanest voices in the arena. Everyone knows that he can play his guitar with as much violence as even the heaviest hitters. He doesn't need to prove any of that. The fact that he doesn't always do that here proves that he is still a reigning champ of the form, but even more so, proves that he, and the band, are capable of spreading their wings into something bigger and more daring.

Highly recommended.

Hear the whole album right here on Punknews!.