Rabies Caste Rabies Caste

The eponymous swan song from this Israeli outfit, Rabies Caste is an interesting look at a band that had oodles of potential but quit before their time — or, as Fudge Tunnel did, before they started to suck. The band’s take on sludge metal is derived from the New Orleans template, but it’s on the smarmier side with old Sourvein and Weedeater. "Timeless” (from their split seven-inch with Sourvein) is a fairly typical Grief-styled bashfest, with vocalist/guitarist David K. sounding more like the Muppet-like intonation of Negative Reaction’s Ken E. Bones than anyone else; the cut also boasts a triple-timed section midway through. "Mind Eruption” hints at the Helmet-meets-Eyehategod grandeur of their sole Earache album, Let the Soul Out and Cut the Vein; at the five-minute mark an incredible AmRep-era Helmet riff erupts and then dives back into the muck as quickly as it surfaced. "Unmanning Your Planet” continues in the same vein, and its final minutes are enhanced by damage to the studio master that fits the oppressive mood. Two previously unreleased live tracks from 2003 and two holdovers from 1997’s never released Children Can Fall into Bucket and Drown EP (especially the godly wall of noise "How Low Can I Get”) emphasise the band’s standing as a major loss to the subgenre. Rabies Caste is certainly targeted for completists and those curious to prime Israeli sludge, and the fact that this compilation isn’t exhaustive gives hope that the remaining songs will one day be released. (Dada Drumming)