Dead Rabbits: Shapeshifter review

When Craig Mabbitt, lead vocalist of Escape the Fate, announced his side-project, The Dead Rabbitts, he promised a return to form. He didn\’t disappoint.  The sheer musicianship merits a careful listening of their debut album, Shapeshifter. The opening track, “My Only Regret,” introduces us to Mabbitt’s newfound sense of clarity.  His transitions from sweet tenor to pronouncing bellow could have easily crowded the stage; however, the guitars have plenty of room to swing. A melodic skeleton holds these diverse tracks together.  Keyboards tinker here and there – most successfully in “Make Me Believe it” – and set this supergroup apart from their less-seasoned contemporaries: they show off a willingness to control the energy inherent in metal for sake of more theatric pronouncements. Percussion is scarce on Shapeshifter. Instead, they employ electronic beats which- at best- support the reliably rhythmic and layered guitars; at their worst, they bleed into their leads (“Ghosts in My Bedroom”).  Luckily, the lead guitar tears through the beat like lightening delighted.  And for fans of post-hardcore: breakdowns are nigh (“Keep Tellin Yourself You Were Right”), which is the summit of the album. Shapeshifter succeeds in its promise of reminiscence, yet maintains a spirit of innovation.  It is worth the investment as aging fans of the genre will welcome the nod to their more turbulent times of adolescence and relish in the fresh musical arrangements; newcomers will feel swelled by the anthemic peaks of every track and march. Rating: 6.5/10 -Andrew Harris