Review: Dead Neanderthals ‘Rat Licker’ EP

As Twin Sister‘s S/T debut made number one in my Shaman Top Ten of 2020, it made sense for me to review two thirds of that band’s other outfit Dead Neanderthals, who are Otto Kokke on soprano sax and Rene Aquarius on drums. The duo, who are from The Netherlands, recorded the EP in Winterswijk, a small town near the German border.

Dead Neanderthals 'Rat Licker'

The disturbing EP cover by Jonathan Bauerle is somewhat reflective of the music which in turn was borne out of the dreadful events of 2020 (according to the promo notes). The band are relentlessly prolific with a prodigious work-rate of 30+ releases, which for a band who only formed in 2010 is pretty darn impressive. Especially compared to the likes of Tool for whom it took nearly two decades to release a new record. 

Bear Mace sets the tone for the album with Siege/Napalm Death style drumming combined with free-jazz sax madness ala John Zorn. It makes for an effective opener and at a mere fifty-three seconds leaves one thirsty for more. Cop Meat starts in a similar fashion before slowing down in a manner that reminds one of Albert Ayler’s Heart Love from the controversial ‘sell-out’ album New Grass. A track of amazing contrasts. If the demented whacked out skonk fun of Japanese noiseniks Melt Banana get your motor runnin’ (to quote Steppenwolf), then the aptly named Brain Damage will undoubtedly be for you.

At eleven seconds long Hate Trip is the shortest number on the album and taps into vintage Napalm Death back when they were famous for their short bursts of noise (as featured on the John Peel Show and What’s That Noise presented by Red Dwarf’s Craig Charles). Assault Rifle at twenty one seconds long is no less furious with blastbeat drumming and squealing sax.

the world is burning and Dead Neanderthals are providing the soundtrack…

Astonishingly we are already halfway through the EP and Restraining Order, one of two ‘longer’ tracks on the EP at a whopping one minute forty-six, the time it would take your average doom band to warm up. There is a pretty cool groove added to the proceedings bringing to mind Sex Swing, or even the quirky circus music of Mr Bungle’s S/T debut. At two minutes Scalp Wounds is positively an epic and the longest track featuring a sound akin to dental surgery gone wrong (which won’t be of any comfort for those with a mortal fear of dentists). The track is brilliantly nightmarish and perhaps the one that best encapsulates the surreal madness of the past year.

The sax playing on Hollow Tip resembles Mike Patton’s vocals at their most over the top with accompanying music straight out of the Buckethead/Painkiller songbook. Accurately reflecting both those artists eccentricities. Napalm Death make another appearance with the exciting Bite Marks which is like an extended version of The Kill, which is guaranteed to appeal to grind fans.

Flamethrower is like going back in time with some vintage Painkiller/Zorn madness, while Body Count embodies the spirit of Ornette Coleman who terrified and confused audiences back in the early 60s. Medical Coma is the slowest track on the album combining the Jaws theme tune with Siege’s most experimental moment Grim Reaper. Like the aforementioned Siege number, Medical Coma closes the album on a doomier, subdued almost apocalyptic tone.

Rat Licker is apparently something of a return to the band’s earlier sound and is certainly proof that you don’t need an electric guitar or a traditional band setup to be heavy or intense. In short, the world is burning and Dead Neanderthals are providing the soundtrack.

Label: Burning World Records | Consouling Sounds | EveryDayHate | God Unknown Records | Moving Furniture Records | Saw-Whet Distro | Sentencia Records | Utech Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills