August 15, 2018
1) After Dark
2) Blood On My Hands
3) Two Face
5) Horror Queen
I first came across The Blackrats in September when I heard of their tour through Quebec and Ontario. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to catch a show this time around, but I did pick up their latest release After Dark and I became instantly hooked. The Blackrats are from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and consist of Sarah Richardson on vocals, Pete Green on stand-up bass, Jason Cantfell on guitar and Dylan Mombourquette on drums. The Blackrats are signed to a Seattle-based record label Splatterhouse Wreckords; After Dark is the band’s second release through the label and if this is any indication of the talent on this label then I am going to have to check out more releases from Splatterhouse Wreckords.
This EP gets things started with the title track. “After Dark” is a fast, upbeat track that is the perfect way to open this EP. It is a frantic psychobilly track in all of the right ways and is definitive of both the EP and this genre. The second track, “Blood On My Hands”, is really the golden goose of this EP. This is the first single off the EP and it really is a hit; it’s super catchy and you will find yourself singing along or humming the melody the first time you listen. It is the kind of song that people will point to and say “this is The Blackrats”. It also has a very cool bridge and breakdown-type outro. The biggest knock I hear on psychobilly (and Mister Gore will agree with this) is that a lot of psychobilly bands sound the same. You can hear the influence of punk and metal bands like Bad Religion and Motorhead in their music, which helps add uniqueness or originality to their sound and helps separate them from many bands in the genre.
The third track on the EP is called “Two Face”. Now is a good time to discuss the stand-up bass in this recording: Pete did a fantastic job on upright throughout this EP. As an upright bass player, my biggest pet peeve in psychobilly music is when the upright bass isn’t present enough in the mix. Pete writes some very cool psycho-slap basslines on the upright; Jason Jenkyns from Codapop Studios (drum/bass/vocal engineer) did a great job capturing this and Jacob Hiltz of Electric Loft Studios (mixing/mastering) did a great job making sure it is prominently featured throughout the EP. “Two Face” also has some cool backing vocals in the chorus that I really dig. Track four “Catacombs” is a fast, heavy, hard-hitting psycho stomper that serves as a good change of pace for the second half of the EP.
“Horror Queen” is another fast track that combines some very classic, creepy psychobilly themes with a cool buildup through the chorus that climaxes on the proclamation that Sarah is a ‘little horror queen!’ With her pipes, she is definitely making a case for herself. The EP closes with “Sideshow”, which is a slower track that moves away from the sound of the rest of the album. It is the only track in 3/4 time which perfectly complements the ‘circus’ vibe that this track is trying to display. I am a big fan of originality in tracks like “Sideshow” and it serves as a good conclusion to the album.
After Dark is the band’s fourth release; however, it is their first with this lineup. I have enjoyed their prior releases as well but this lineup really takes things to a new level. This EP is crisper and catchier than previous releases; this will definitely get listeners very excited for what comes next! Speaking of what comes next… rumour has it that the After Dark EP is the first six tracks of an upcoming 11-track album that is set for a spring 2019 release!
“Blood On My Hands”