Review Summary: The only real letdown is the loss of Jeniffer "Sum Grrl" Bernett on vocals as the missing ‘fun’ elements are more than made up for with ambition and anger.
In 2008 JP Anderson released his third album under the Rabbit Junk moniker, and it was easily his most ambitious. The project, titled This Life is Where You Get Fucked
, was a three-part concept album that set out to supplement the band’s digital hardcore foundation with a unique subset of influences for each section. Truth be told, though, the album wasn’t as diverse as the description might imply. The first section was easily the most hardcore influenced and the second section had an obvious hip-hop influence, but basically the album was pretty linear. Despite the fact that the ‘concept’ part of the album wasn’t totally realized, This Life is Where You Get Fucked
still ended up being another excellent addition to the Rabbit Junk discography – an addition that required a sequel in order to fulfill JP Anderson’s initial vision.
is meant to be that vision-fulfilling sequel, but it’s never obvious that it has any real connection to This Life is Where You Get Fucked
. The only element that the two albums share is the use of three distinct sections that retain the same classifications – the difference being that Project Nonagon
actually succeeds in creating three entirely different listening experiences. Other than that, Project Nonagon
not only diverges from its supposed predecessor, but also from the Rabbit Junk discography in general. Don’t get me wrong, the band’s blend of electronics, metal and hardcore is still firmly intact and JP Anderson’s signature shout is still front-and-center, but after that there are some very noticeable differences and not all of them will initially be welcome.
No matter how heavy or dissonant Rabbit Junk became they were always a fun band foremost, but that isn’t the case anymore. The main reason for this change in demeanor seems to be due to the loss of Jeniffer "Sum Grrl" Bernett on backing vocals. Jeniffer was consistently the exultant counterpoint to JP’s aggression, the one most likely to deliver a biting and sarcastic line, and a distinguishing force in a testosterone-driven genre. Throughout three albums, Jeniffer was always the Flavor Flav to JP Anderson’s Chuck D, and she is sorely missed here. The other factor that seems to sap a bit of the ‘fun’ away is that the metal influences dominate the electro, punk and hardcore elements too often. The end result is an album that shares more with The Shizit’s last release than it does with anything that Rabbit Junk has done before. If you’re wondering how that can really be that terrible of a revelation, don’t worry, because it’s not.
The first section, The Struggle
, comes blazing out of the gates with an aggressive blend of electronics, hardcore and black metal and is probably the most similar to The Shizit. The energetic riffs shred through the electronics and beats, and JP Anderson’s throat-shredding shout simply dominates. “Blood,” in particular, is just a near-relentless barrage of double bass, crushing riffs and unmitigated anger. When it isn’t pummeling the listener with thick percussion and JP’s screams, it is displaying the band’s new symphonic/melodic angle that includes some surprising clean singing as well as a more prominent use of keys and synths. If the first section is considered a minor departure for the band, the second section comes completely from left field as they move in a direction that is heavily influenced by movie soundtracks.
The second section, Ghetto Blasphemer
, is based on the works of HP Lovecraft and is a huge change for Rabbit Junk. A majority of this section’s lyrics are spoken and are intended to be seen as the voice of each song’s protagonist. During these parts the music is often nothing more than subtle electro beats and an ominous aura created by the synths. These parts are interspersed with some of the darkest, heaviest sections of the band’s career; with JP’s vocals even flirting with death metal on “The Revenge of Julian Modely.” If there is a section that is going to be hard for Rabbit Junk fans to digest, it is going to be this one, but the rewards for seeing these songs through is also the greatest. These three songs easily feature some of the band’s most ambitious ideas as well as some of their heaviest and most restrained moments, and they may take a few tries to make everything click.
The final section, This Death Is Where You Get Life
, is probably the most similar to Rabbit Junk’s previous endeavors, and is a welcome conclusion to Project Nonagon
. These final three tracks are the easiest to digest as they return a bit of that intangible fun factor as well as JP Anderson’s quirky sense of humor. This section begins with the EBM meets 80s rock of “Handlebars” and “Devotee.’ These two songs swing the mood 180 degrees away from the dark vibes of the initial part of the album with their upbeat style and catchy choruses, but JP Anderson saved the best for last. “U-Lock Justice!” is just a chaotic blend of hardcore, drum&bass and reggae and will probably elicit a chuckle (or at least a smile) from most longtime fans.
JP Anderson may have set out to make Project Nonagon
a direct sequel to This Life is Where You Get Fucked
but it didn’t really happen. The two projects have very little in common, and what little direction they do share is executed much better here. Project Nonagon
succeeds in creating three distinct sections that push the limits of Rabbit Junk’s sound while still retaining enough of the past to please long time fans. That means that there is still plenty of the band’s signature digital hardcore grind, but there is also a more developed sense of melody, more visceral riffs as well as a willingness to jump feet-first into a soundtrack oriented direction. The only real letdown is due to the removal of Jeniffer "Sum Grrl" Bernett from the band’s formula, but if she is only missing for this single album then that can probably be forgiven.