The Seattle duo of JP Anderson and Sum Grrrl are well-versed in several different styles of music, leading to the self-applied label of digital hardcore. RJ’s witch’s brew of metal, EBM, industrial, punk, and urban music makes for an exciting listen damn near every time, as I’ve previously expressed in my review of their EP Reveal. As a band of the people, they’ve unleashed their newest record Xenospheres under the pay what you want model, making the temptation to snag some free music very real - and given that the pandemic is still ongoing, that is the point of releasing it as such. While saying no to free shit is not a thing to do, it rings doubly true here, as this serves as some of the heaviest music Rabbit Junk have ever made. It will make you dance, it will make you scream along, and it will make you forget, if only briefly, about the world around you.
Opening the record is “Neurodivergent,” which took me back to my first time hearing the band, which was their song “Beast” from the EP of the same name. The low A that the main riff is built around feels properly heavy, and in this era of djent and extended-range guitars being the norm, that’s an achievement. The structure is a toss to the Seattle-perfected quiet verse, loud chorus dynamic, with emphasis on a heavy, guitar-driven chorus. Don’t worry, the next track, aptly named “The Bends,” brings the lower end of the guitars in a mid-tempo crusher with loads of sludge. “Relentless (Omicron Nu Epsilon)” begins with more synths than six (or seven) strings, but brings a highly dance-ready groove for the chorus.
Sum Grrrl takes on vocal duties with “Prismatic,” with its even keel of synths and guitars. The kick drum patterns make for a heart-pounding track, especially during Sum Grrrl’s commanding part of the chorus and the bass-heavy bridge. “Angry People” plays around with reggae and hip-hop, primarily in JP’s vocal delivery, but the metal backbone that the record is built with is still very much intact. It’s a metallic melting pot that best displays the lack of hesitation that the band has with experimentation. The intro to “Curse” is firmly in EBM territory, with JP working in his higher vocal range, and doing so with fervor.
As to be expected given the source material, the cover of “Kick It,” originally done by Peaches and Iggy Pop, is punk as fuck with a dub edge to make it the band’s own. “Bits and Razors,” which was our first initial taste of the record, is a building badass track that goes all in on the chorus to great success. Closing the album is “From the Stars II,” continuing the story of Kite and Vireo that was first told on Project Nonagon. JP’s narration makes me want to pay to hear him read a damn phone book, and the backing track ping-pongs between industrial and metal seamlessly.
They did it again, y’all. Rabbit Junk provided us with a banger of an album, with no weak tracks to be found. It’s a genuine triumph, and could not have come at a better time. Dance, sing, scream, headbang, whatever floats your boat, but blare this album at your earliest convenience. And again, it’s available for pay what you want, so there’s hardly an excuse.
Xenospheres is available now via Glitch Mode Recordings.