The first release from Rabitrup, SWVMPS, was a nightmarish journey of industrial noise and damaged melody, as addictive as it was difficult to listen to, with emotional gut-punches to go along with the musical ones. The follow-up, SWVMPS II, is a slightly more accessible listen, but it’s still a difficult twenty minutes. Ineligible screams emerge from beneath hyper-speed drum’n’bass rhythms, along with waves of piercing noise and brutalised guitars, all emerging from some ruined, yet still human, psyche. But as overwhelming and challenging as it can be, SWVMPS II is a rewarding EP, offering a kind of catharsis that is as physical as it is emotional.
The original SWVMPS was a very individual release, possessed of a character that – whilst incredibly dark, and as difficult to listen to as it was to look away from – gave the record a naked, emotional edge. The follow-up is much more musically oppressive at all points, often coming across as if Skinny Puppy listened to the most challenging parts of their considerable back-catalogue and thought “nah, this is too tame”. For the first two tracks – ‘Locks’ and ‘Phantoms’ – the furious rhythms and air of general chaos is immense, never relenting or retreating for even a moment. As overwhelming as it may seem at first, there is an infectious energy to them, and just enough melody to get a handle on the music amongst the swirling chaos.
It’s with third track, ‘Walls’, that a sense of creeping dread comes to the EP, built as it is upon waves of damaged, stuttering noise and ominous drones. Whilst it is too intense and sonically loud to fit in with dark ambient, it shares many of the aims and methods of that genre – the sense that this music promises harm and misery is present throughout, and made all the more effective for the slow, patient way it is expressed. It wouldn’t be a surprise if, in the future, a label such as Malignant Records ended up taking an interest in Rabitrup, as there’s considerable cross-over here between SWVMPS II and much of that label’s output.
Yet at the same time, it has to be emphasised how unique an experience Rabitrup creates. The combination of high-energy dance-influenced sounds, and the kind of oppressive atmospheres normally found in extreme metal and dark ambient, makes for an interesting duality; but also for an emotionally punishing, and rewarding, listen. And when compared with the previous EP, the removal of the spoken samples does wonders for the flow and (relative) accessibility of the record – it helps ensure all emotion and narrative is carried by the music alone, and it succeeds on both counts.
SWVMPS II is due for release on 5 January 2018. Follow Rabitrup on Facebook for details.