HEALTH Ratchet Up the Intensity on 'RAT WARS'

Exclaim! Staff Picks

BY Allie GregoryPublished Dec 7, 2023

One of Exclaim!'s Best Albums of 2023, HEALTH's RAT WARS is packed from snout to tail with brutality and vulnerability, its 12 tracks draped in gnashing, industrial noise as well as epic, monasterial synths. Taking a break from the DISCO projects that saw them collaborating with everyone from Soccer Mommy to the Body, the Los Angeles experimentalists return to their core sound with vocalist Jake Duzsik's dark lyricism again at the forefront.

Their best album to date introduces itself with "DEMIGODS," easing fans out of their collaborative spirit with subtle backing vocals from Street Sects' Leo Ashline and various instrumentalists' contributions. Beginning as a (literally) sorrowful synth ballad, it ramps up in its final act to deliver hard-hitting, neck-injuring percussion. Nine Inch Nails-indebted "FUTURE OF HELL" paves the way for pre-album cycle favourite "HATEFUL," a witchouse-y fist-pumping team-up with SIERRA whose final minute offers extreme rave energy.

Other highlights include the goth-as-fuck "UNLOVED," "CHILDREN OF SORROW" featuring Lamb of God's Willie Alder's stank face-inducing riffs, Godflesh-sampling "SICKO" (just try and keep your devil horns down for this one), and the thundering "DSM-V," which portends the album's conclusion with extra-industrial fortitude and a driving bass-y undercurrent before the trio change up the tempo for its devastating end. 

These guys are bringing their show on the road in early 2024, and will be hitting a couple of Canadian venues on the way. I cannot recommend their live shows more — they're some of the loudest, most intense performers out there right now. Just be sure to bring earplugs.

(Loma Vista)

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