Rats by Heavy Harvest is like a bag of trail mix. For every delicious almond or M&M, there is a pesky raisin that threatens to taint the entire experience. There is a lot to appreciate about Rats, but every now and then I found myself asking, “Why?!” For example, if you are only going to include ten tracks, why choose a bizarre outtake like “Motionless,” which features front-man O’Neal Hass fucking around on his guitar while recording it all on an iPhone? It would be funny if it was thirty seconds, but three minutes?! That is one motherfucking gross and mutated looking raisin, my friends! That said, there is a lot more to feast on, so let’s jump right into it!
The selling point of this record is the band’s energy. I have never seen them live, but you can immediately tell that their studio output will only give you a small idea of what they are capable of. Thankfully, at least half of these songs crackle with life, even after numerous listens. A song like “Another Mouth, Another Tongue” reminds me immediately of Nirvana’s “Endless, Nameless” in that it’s a grungy, noisy, seemingly random instrumental that is still somehow kinda catchy.
The real highlight though has to be “Eraserhead.” Not only does it actually sound like it should be included in the soundtrack of David Lynch’s 1977 classic, it might actually scare the crap out of you! The dynamics on this track are out of this world! The verses are barely audible, but the chorus, which is just Hass screaming “LEAVE ME ALONE,” is such a shift that it might just knock your headphones off. (Note: you NEED to listen to this with headphones on.)
Alas, here comes another raisin. Despite the fact that nine of these ten tracks sound good or even great, the lyrics, and to a lesser extent their delivery, are often very clumsy. I mean, Hass is a passable vocalist at best, but that shouldn’t make or break this style of music. The problem is that what he’s saying is ridiculous, and not in an intentional way. He sounds like he’s trying to reach deep into his soul, but coming up with something like, “I can’t remember the last time I smiled/Open up my brain see that I lie” or the even more baffling “Witch tits, penguin shits/A champagne glass or a polar bear’s ass.” Now, to be fair, he’s yelling a lot of the time, so I guess who cares how bad the lyrics are, right? The thing is once you pay attention and actually hear the words “penguin shits” it’s really hard to hear anything else.
Despite these things, I see a lot of potential in Heavy Harvest. For one, their synergy is contagious, and I’m willing to bet that they are a shit ton of fun in a live setting. As of now, though, they haven’t completely found a way to translate this into an album format that everyone can enjoy in the comfort of their own homes. What they obviously need to do is get rid of the filler (I’m looking at you “Motionless,”) and write words that are appropriate with the instrumentation. If they do, they will be well on their way to providing their fans a delicious, raisin-free bag of the finest trail mix that punk rock has to offer.
Written by Shawn Thicke
*edited by Kate Erickson