Heavy metal ska outfit he River Ratts have a new album showing off somewhat of a new sound (they used to be Los Rudos). The album is a good mixture of styles, although transitioning from one genre to the next mid-song is sometimes rather jarring.
The River Ratts actually refer to themselves as “skacore,” but for them it’s much more than an excuse to equate their love of hardcore with their love of ska. The River Ratts are also strongly influenced by Latin music. Many songs are bilingual, politically-charged, and rhythms are kept by an addition of timbales to the drum set. What results is an amalgamation of 2 tone licks, heavy riffs, and a salsa beat.
Ratkingphenomenon is their latest release. Songs typically cycle from ska, to hardcore, to more experimental stuff like in "Narco," which has Ranchero breaks. "Narco" itself is a song whose title is clearly a play on words, showing the dual-nature of many communities in their homeland surrounding Riverside, California. In this case combining "narc" with "Norco” is a good example of how, lyrically, the music can cover tough social issues and not just innocent love songs. But the innocent love songs are by no means comparatively dull. It can be strange to hear music jump from Sublime to Cannibal Corpse and then straight back to Bob Marley in the course of a minute, but it's this diversity that helps set the River Ratts apart. Heavy guitars and agonized screams in songs like "Pushed to Kill" certainly stand out against the reggae of "My Girl" and “Pack It,” but no song on this album exists in a vacuum. They all seem to fit together in one way or another.
With Ratkingphenomenon especially, it seems now that the fusion of styles will be a trend growing even more in the underground. This is definitely one to pick up.