Rondonrats – Fever

The Rondonrats are better than ever, settling on doing the unexpected as their calling card.

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Artist – Rondonrats
Album – Fever
Website – http://www.rondonrats.com

Do you like Grindcore? Do you like J-pop?  Of course you do. Sometimes when you are listening to Melt Banana do you wish that you were listening to Shiina Ringo at the same time? The Rondonrats feel your pain. They don’t want you to choose, they want you to have it all. At the same time.

The Rondonrats have been kicking around now for more than ten years. Originally from Hiroshima but now Tokyo based, the band has always been very good at pop punk with Japanese characteristics. However 2013’s Dimension Trip and 2014’s Eat Sorrow and Happiness saw the band going through changes. And rightly so, years and years of pop punk would inspire any band in it for the creativity to start breaking down the walls. Those albums saw the twin guitarists getting significantly more Melt Banana with the guitars. Screeches, skronks, and synth-y sounds accompanied the more traditional chugging guitars and zippy solos. Fever sees the band getting even more wild with their sound, this time adding a dash of sounds from extreme metal. Perhaps the heaviness was a prediction of the future, as after the album was finished they hired an honest-to-badness death metal drummer.

Now I don’t want to confuse Napalm Death fans. The band is not so much heavy or extreme as it uses the same sonic elements that heavy and extreme bands use: already fast tempos played double time, double kick drum patterns, heavier guitars than the band has ever used. But this is pop music, sugary, practically diabetic, but barbed in its execution. Mamiko sings in a higher register that is processed within an inch of its life. So, if you can only stand death metal growls and big voiced pop singers, Mamiko’s style might be fructose overload.

All these elements converge on “Rain” which is not only the best song on the album, it’s the best thing they’ve ever done. Much like The song “Sunbather” will always cast a shadow over the rest of Deafheaven’s catalog, the Rondonrats will have a hard time outdoing “Rain”.

As soon as the furiously strummed guitar comes in, the intensity doesn’t let up for three glorious minutes. Every melody Mamiko unleashes sounds like it could be the chorus. When the vocals take the song to its seeming peak, the second guitar solo takes the song higher than you could imagine. The bass kicks up the intensity when the drums expertly drop from double time to a backbeat to half time. It’s a glorious testament to the combination of pop instincts, songwriting experience, and band dynamics. If you’re not out of breath by the end, your ears may be broken.

Clocking in at half an hour, the mini album format suits the Rats best. Theirs is an intense kind of music and it would be exhausting if it went on to long. Even on the more “laid back” songs like “蜃気楼” the bpm is above your average band’s top speed, and they incorporate extreme elements into every song. But they close the album with a big, arms-in-the-air-let’s-pogo closer with, “NORA-way”. It’s a fun end to what’s been their most extreme journey yet.

It’s not too many bands that put out their best work and their best song seven releases into their career, but the Rondonrats have decided that doing unexpected things is their calling card.

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