Dead Rabbits - Sin-Eater
Overit Records
Blues-Influenced Heavy Rock
17 songs (69:15)
Release year: 2006
Dead Rabbits, Overit Records
Reviewed by Ken

I’ve read quite a few reviews praising the hell out of Sin-Eater, the debut offering from New York’s Dead Rabbits—named after the 1850's New York City gang (fictionalized in the movie Gangs of New York)—but I’ve also read numerous reviews tearing the album to shreds. It would seem that there are two distinct camps here: quality vs. quantity; those that base their opinion more on quality of music, and those that base their opinion on quantity of originality. The former group will find Sin-Eater to be one ballsy, ass-kickin’, blues-infested, down-and-dirty rock album, if not too original; the latter group will find Sin-Eater to be a stroll down memory lane with some very familiar to not-so-familiar-but-slightly-remembered friends of old, mainly because of the similarities to post-Technocracy Corrosion Of Conformity and Monster Magnet. I find myself aligned with the quality group. I can never deny a good tune. But I also find myself sympathizing with the other group; there are certain songs here that simply sound too familiar no matter how good they are.

Dead Rabbits was given life in 2000 by guitarist Mike Maney (guitars/vocals), former guitarist for NY hardcore stalwart Stigmata (check out Hymns For An Unknown God). Later, Overit Records owner Daniel Dinsmore (The Clay People), Brendan Slater (ex-The Clay People), and Jason Sunkes (ex-Stigmata), rounded out the four-piece. Dead Rabbits is a far cry from the brutal hardcore/metal assault that is Stigmata, however. Relying more on a southern-fried, bottom heavy groove, driving rock ‘n’ roll, and a double-shot of melody, Dead Rabbits find themselves in the company of kings.

“Open Season” busts through the womb like the bastard child of Pepper Keenan of Corrosion Of Conformity and Dave Wyndorf of Monster Magnet (don’t think too hard on that comment); a blistering track, indeed. Maney sounds almost identical to Dave Wyndorf, and when he’s not he sounds like Pepper Keenan. This is generally why I feel some people will immediately call Dead Rabbits a copy-cat band. I’d say for the most part that assessment is quite a bit unfair, but at times the similarities of some tracks are too close to deny, like on the Sabbath-like groover, “Once Upon A Cross,” and it’s main riff being almost identical to the main riff in the Corrosion Of Conformity classic “Albatross.” The breakdown at the end of “Miles Away” also reminds me of Corrosion Of Conformity. The glaring similarities end there, though. Musically, anything else is stretching it. Vocally, like I said, Maney is indeed a Wyndorf/Keenan clone, but with a sound too natural for it to be intentional.

Other tracks like “Trust” and “Day By Day” touch upon Maney’s hardcore roots, while “Sleep” channels some old Seventies stoner-doom. “Away From The Sun” is the best song Zakk Wylde never wrote, equipped with his perfectly-placed signature “pings” and a killer solo. “Neurotic Fanatic” is a bit too noisy for me, similar to something from Monster Magnet’s self-titled debut, or Spine Of God. The album boasts four cover tracks as well. The first is the Hendrix classic “Manic Depression,” a fairly by-the-numbers cover of an overrated song—in my opinion. If you like the original, you should dig this. “Just Dead Rabbit Space” is a pointless hidden track of silence that leads to three more hidden cover tracks: the politically-fueled “Fortunate Son” by John Fogerty, “Paegan Love Song” by Acid Bath, and another Hendrix cover, the too-often-covered “Little Wing.” “Fortunate Son” was never a great song to begin with, so it comes off a bit flat here as well. “Little Wing,” at this point, should always be followed by “(trad.)” it’s been covered so often; and never, to my knowledge, in a highly original way. It’s no different here, but it is a good, standard cover. The best of the cover tracks is the excellent “Paegan Love Song;” not as heavy as the original, but still a great version of the classic.

The production on Sin-Eater is top-notch. The mastering, however, comes off a bit dated. I wouldn’t have been surprised if the album hadn’t been mastered, but it has, and the levels are simply too low for a 2006 release, much lower than the current standard. This, of course, doesn’t really affect anything; just turn that shit up! Overall, Sin-Eater is a great album if you can look past its likeness to other well-known bands of the same ilk. Fortunately I can, but I can see where some may frown upon such similarities. If you like any of the bands I mentioned, or this style of bluesy hard rock, you’d not be crazy for checking out Dead Rabbits.

AUDIO: Dead Rabbits on MySpace * and Paegan Love Song (clip of the original Acid Bath version)

* Some of the track titles on MySpace are different than on Sin-Eater. On the MySpace page, “Gone” is “Away From The Sun;” “Cyclone” is “Open Season.”

VIDEO: Till I Die (Video)

Note: In time these links will likely becoming outdated.

Killing Songs :
Open Season, Trust, Away From The Sun, Once Upon A Cross, Sleep and Day By Day
Ken quoted 80 / 100
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