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original site launched April 1, 2004, .com relaunched October 1, 2004

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editor's note
Rat Wakes Red
Horizon Drops
(Rat Disk)
by Christopher Patterson

Rat Wakes Red is a band that slips easily into the emo-goth scene, with songs about heartbreak, yearning and alienation. It’s no secret that most artists in this genre consider themselves poetic and lush while many listeners consider them whiny and pretentious, and it’s in this case especially that Rat Wakes Red’s James Raftery fits right into the mold.

On first listen of the album, Raftery’s composition seems troubled by his addiction to merging genres. Songs like “Weekend” and “Ground” take the heated emotion too far, while the whispery and troubled voice is joined by loud near-screams of “I do not belong!” which eclipse the sublime melodies that this Raftery is otherwise capable of. It’s too bad “Weekend” is one of the worst on the album, as it’s also the highest publicized, as the first single.

While merging intensity may be a task unfit for Raftery, when he just wants to be sublime, he’s fantastic. Songs like “Wheels” trick the listener into thinking that it’s just mellow, but in surprising interludes Raftery declares himself a master of harmony and atmosphere. At its best, the band pulls of neo-goth well in using eerie background vocals with a sonorously capable voice.

The guitar itself is best in songs like “Lovely Invalid” and “Behemoth,” when James Raftery’s smooth electric leads his guest guitarist John Werner in a dark, fluid and mellow drama. The pleasure in this sound only leads the listener to wonder why Raftery only used John Werner two songs—gothic arrogance, perhaps?