RAT KING ‘Barren’ EP Review & Stream

(By Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker, Lead Journalist/Writer, RiffRelevant.com)

Coming from the U.S. midwest’s bread basket region, Evansville, Indiana to be precise, comes Rat King. “Barren” is the title of the newest EP offering from this regal rodent and it’s a 3-song excursion into some heady doom. Yet that is not all that courses through the veins of this effort from this sovereign viceroy of vermin, not by any means.

No, there are ample nods to psychedelia and alternative rock also, not to mention a heaping dose of ethereally ambient textures as well. In fact, one could easily attach a tag of shoegaze-related elements too for they are here, albeit in a bit more subtle placement. That’s all thanks to drummer / vocalist Kyle Wilcher, bassist Nick Graman, lead guitarist Andre Stirbu and rhythm guitarist Jason Wilcher.

The opening song and title track, “Barren“, quickly builds momentum in its dirge-like chuggery. Grooving right along, the airy vocals seem to soar inward from the distance. The thumping rhythms and riffs rumble as vocal chants arrive right before a turn toward more animated playing. You can definitely feel a spike in the song’s overall energy by this point, along with an intriguing change in the vocal styling as a bit of incendiary guitar playing is soon taking place.

Things instantly one-eighty right from the very start of “A Passing Thought On A Starry Night“…at first anyway. A melodic acoustic guitar part lulls you along before the all-out eruption of electrified heaviness engages. With fuzzy riffs emanating all about, somewhat loose drumming anchors things in place. All of this while the intangible vocals hover upon the airwaves, at one point taking on a somewhat heavier, throatier snarl.

Last up is my favorite cut of the three, the heavier slant of the metallic-tinged “Desert“. As it further unfolds, I realize that it is an instrumental, one that’s peppered with some damn fine aggressive tendencies at times. Other times, they relent for some tightly-knit tempests of powerful audible interactions among the trio. They jam and jam away, pulling us through a maze of varying tempos and time signatures.

The “Barren” EP, delivered by the hewing, hacking Hoosiers of Rat King, is a specialized short-player showing great promise. The diversified music contained upon it, though rooted in doom and laden with somewhat spectral vocals, is quite a nice refresher. Take my advice and try it out for yourself via the Bandcamp embed below.

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