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Health - Rat Wars (Album Review)

Wednesday, 13 December 2023 Written by Tom Morgan

Photo: Mynxii White

It’s cold, dark and wet outside, so it’s the ideal time to crank up some moody industrial rock to get the blood pumping. Health's ‘Rat Wars’ is the perfect companion. 

Following a series of collaborative releases with a range of disparate contributors, including Lamb Of God, JPEGMAFIA and Xiu Xiu, here the Los Angeles group push their own mores to the front and drill down into the Health-verse — a seductive world of punishing beats, oppressive synths and emotive vocals.

Old habits die hard, though, and two tracks on ‘Rat Wars’ feature guest contributions. The goth club banger Hateful uses guest vocals by Sierra to soulful effect, while the Godflesh-featuring Sicko seamlessly marries Health’s sound with Justin K Broadrick’s murky vision.

It’s impossible not to be bowled over by the sheer weight of these 12 tracks. They bludgeon us with muscular drum machines (Future of Hell), intense tempos (Crack Metal) and infectious grooves (DSM-V), and ‘Rat Wars’ is, above all else, thrillingly varied. 

It’s simultaneously an industrial, techno, groove-metal, synth-pop and ambient album, one that also takes cues from modern electronica stalwarts such as Blanck Mass and Oneohtrix Point Never. This is maximalist noise of the most compelling variety, equally suited for packed basement clubs, nighttime city drives or intense gym workouts. Inject some Health into your veins.

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