REVIEW: The Dead Rabbitts – ‘Shapeshifter’

Shapeshifter

Artist: The Dead Rabbitts
Album: Shapeshifter
Genre: Metalcore
Label: Tragic Hero Records

Craig Mabbitt has been in the music industry for quite some time now. He started his career as the frontman of Blessthefall. After he parted ways with them he took over the role as frontman for Escape The Fate. During that time he started his side project The Word Alive. He unfortunately was not with TWA for long and ended up separating from that band as well. Luckily he still had ETF, and that’s who he’s been working with ever since. I am a fan of his music during his time with those two groups, as well as This War Is Ours, but I stopped enjoying their music with the subsequent releases.

I don’t remember which song it was that Mabbitt first released under The Dead Rabbitts, but I remember being incredibly hesitant to listen to it. I was afraid it would be too similar to ETF, but I was wrong. I loved it. I couldn’t wait to hear more. When they finally dropped the Edge Of Reality EP I couldn’t have been happier. It’s easily one of my favorite to-go albums right now. After a couple of years of riding the success of the EP the band finally signed on to a major label, and subsequently announced the details for their debut full-length, Shapeshifter.

The album opens with the lead single they released, which is “My Only Regret.” The instruments and vocals are spot on, but some of the lyrics aren’t very attention-grabbing for me. While I do enjoy this track, I think the rest of the album has much more to offer. The next song may sound familiar to you, as it’s the first track of their EP. “Nothing But A Reject” was one of the best songs on the EP, and it’s still a top hit on this album. It sounds like it was rerecorded as he sings some of the parts slightly different. The changes don’t have a huge impact on the quality of the song. It’s an awesome song either way, though I am sure fans appreciate the effort to “update” it to fit with the new album’s sound.

It’s usually safe to assume that the title track of an album (if there is one) is going to be one of the best songs overall. In this instance that happens to be the case. “Shapeshifter” has a lot going on in terms of sound. It’s one of the heavier tracks, but still has some quality clean vocals. You can hear every element of the song at any given moment. Though the band doesn’t use a ton of electronics in their music you definitely hear its influence throughout the track. The song mellows out at the end and transitions to the next notable track, “Deer In The Headlights.” He sings about being backstabbed by someone he trusted, and how he’s moving on.

Mabbitt has said himself that he sounds more “pissed off” with these songs. Just listening to the album once will make it obvious as to why he says this. With tracks like “My Only Regret,” “Deer In Headlights” and “Keep Telling Yourself You Were Right,” it’s easy to conclude he’s had to deal with a lot of shit. Whatever life has had to throw at him it seems he has successfully transferred that energy into something he is passionate about. I am sure a lot of his fans can agree that we appreciate that fact.

The one thing about Shapeshifter that I am really disappointed in is that there are four of the songs off the EP on it. I can understand one or two, but four? I realize Mabbitt is a busy guy with Escape The Fate and being a father, but that seems a bit like a cop out. Maybe there is a specific reason, who really knows? The only song that has a real noticeable difference is “Nothing But A Reject.” They more than likely rerecorded the other tracks too but it doesn’t really sound like it. I would prefer to have one or two new songs and three less revamped older songs. Aside from that, I thoroughly enjoy every song on this album. I can’t even pick a favorite to recommend.

Even considering that four of the songs on Shapeshifter are reused, it’s a great album. I’d even venture to say this is the best album Craig Mabbitt has released since his days in Blessthefall. Not to hate on Escape The Fate, but I simply do not like their rock ‘n’ roll sound. I enjoyed This War Is Ours, and a few songs off Ungrateful, but otherwise I have not been interested in their new releases. I believe that The Dead Rabbitts are a true reflection of the talented musician that Mabbitt is. Let’s hope that his work in ETF doesn’t keep him away from working with TDR too often.

SCORE: 9/10
Review written by Kriston McConnell

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  • Phil Anthrop

    he started his career with blessthefall, not the word alive… he formed the word alive in january 2008 or around this time they released their first songs… in december 2007 , in the middle of the european tour, he left blessthefall, and they continued playing the rest of their shows with jared (bassist) doing lead vocals and eric ( red hair lead guitarist) sang clean … he released 1 album, 1 ep, 1 demo with blessthefall before he released any twa stuff. but when he formed twa he was already in escape the fate, twa was a side project for him, but the other guys wanted to do it full time and didnt want wait when mabbitt has free time so they decided to kick him out and thats when telle came on board.

  • Kriston McConnell

    You’re right about the time frames. I had the wrong years in my head. I’ll get that fixed. I knew about him getting kicked out I just felt it was better to gloss over that a bit. Thanks!