Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

HEALTH’s RAT WARS is an eviscerating act of catharsis for the post-pandemic era.


Release date: 07 December 2023
06 December 2023, 11:00 Written by Jack Bray

Few things have the capacity to alter quite like trauma.

It shapes us, changes us, defines us. For HEALTH, the shared trauma of the pandemic was a motivator, an opportunity to evolve, to improve.

If we’ve learned anything in recent years, it’s that a lot can change in a short period of time, and in real terms, HEALTH have. Since 2020, the band have released two volumes in their now-famous DISCO series, but with a twist. Working collaboratively with bands like Nine Inch Nails, Xiu Xiu and Lamb of God, the band were forced to cohere, to work their signature industrial sound through everything from hip-hop to metal and they did so with startling success.

The question then, is what does that newfound genre-twisting experimentation mean for the group’s fifth album, RAT WARS? Is this still sad music for horny people or something else?

In short, RAT WARS is an album for every conceivable type of HEALTH enjoyer. Fans of 2019’s VOL 4 :: SLAVES OF FEAR will feel just as at home as those that enjoyed 2015’s DEATH MAGIC and even the band’s earliest, self-titled industrial release from 2007. It’s in this amalgamation of sound that HEALTH arrive with their most scathing and sombre record yet.

It's a quality that is appreciable from the outset with "DEMIGODS", where the band dance effortlessly across the lines between genres. Ambient industrial gives way to crunching reverb-drenched metal and into scattershot synthwave (no doubt influenced by the band’s work with Pertubator and in providing music for games like Cyberpunk 2077).

This aggression isn’t baseless though; in many ways RAT WARS feels like an album built to critique the vapidity of modern life. For example, "HATEFUL" conjures up images of sci-fi night-clubs during floor-clearing brawls, whilst Jake Duzsik’s meditations on love and loneliness hint at a real longing for meaning and purpose.

One of the great assets of RAT WARS is that it recognisably affords the trio – Jake Duzsik, John Famiglietti & BJ Miller – the space to pitch to their strengths to get this message across. For example, "UNLOVED" features John Famiglietti’s distinctive ‘dog-pounder’ production, Duzsiks’ world-weary lyricism and Miller’s club-ready, drum barrages. Despite its title and message, the combined result is ironically one of the album’s most seductive songs.

"CHILDREN OF SORROW" is another essential cut. Likely RAT WARS’ best example of what the band now lovingly refer to as #CumMetal, it’s a seamless marriage of metal and electronic. Built from a guitar riff supplied by Lamb of God’s Willie Adler, the song gives way to an all-out electronic assault on the senses. It’s a tour de force performance from a band utterly certain of the space they occupy between genres and perhaps one of the catchiest singles they’ve released to date.

This isn’t to say that RAT WARS is just comprised of block-rocking bangers though. "OF BEING BORN" and album closer "DON’T TRY" for example, are contenders for some of the band’s most introspective songs to date. In particular, "DON’T TRY" feels like a song built from the band’s time producing music for Rockstar’s Max Payne 3. It's a haunting five-minute struggle with life and failure that aptly follows the righteous fury present across the album. It’s proof if proof were needed that there’s very little that HEALTH can’t turn their hand to.

In fully owning their anguish and collective past, present and future, HEALTH have yet another essential record to their name - one which fully and flawlessly embraces savagery and sincerity in equal measure. For listeners outside the orbit of modern electronic and metal it may well prove overwhelming, but for fans of either it’s a staggering release not to be missed. Truly, there’s never been a better time to join the HEALTH experiment.

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