Has the almighty SLIPKNOT run its course? Has the band gotten too big for its nine members to handle, or are certain individuals simply starting to suffocate underneath the masks and looking for a little room to breathe? The latter is the more likely scenario, as many bands that reach a certain level of success often either get completely full of their own shit or creatively stifled by all the proverbial fecal matter that goes hand in hand with the "life." Before I get too far off course talking about how utterly badass it would be to see Paul Gray and/or Jim Root return to ANAL BLAST and bring porngrind to the sheltered throngs of mall metallers, I'll cut to the chase and say that Shawn "Clown" Crahan's DIRTY LITTLE RABBITS is going to surprise the hell out of maggots en masse.Directed more towards the art-rock/alternative crowd, "Simon" provides none of the metallic intensity that SLIPKNOT fans might expect given the name attached to the EP, but at the same time, these six songs are a much more challenging and interesting endeavor than anything STONE SOUR has done thus far. Dementia, courtesy of the eerily intertwining organ and guitar melodies, ushers in the opening, jam-based instrumental track, "Poor, Poor Woman With Her Head In The Oven", with the charm and intrigue of a grinning circus freak. What follows is a collection of tunes driven by the twisted frolic of Stella Katsoudas' voice and Michael Pfaff's church-like organ. Driving (in an alt-rock sort of way) as they are, Ty Fhyrie's guitar and Crahan's drumming take a backseat to the mood and arrangements created by the band as a whole. Flourishes of '70s-inspired prog, attention-grabbing hooks and dark atmosphere see "You Say" and "Same Mistakes" (which could pass for an aggressive excuse for a Tori Amos song) stand out amongst the jaggedly warped "I'm So Beautiful" and infectious/almost obnoxiously irresistible "Hello". As if the intent was to pile all the eclecticism of the EP into one song, "Happy" comes across like an afternoon spent stoned at the circus. Albeit a brief one, "Simon" is one quirky fuckin' roller-coaster ride through an amusement park you may or may not want to revisit. On one hand, DIRTY LITTLE RABBITS boldly tromps through territory that is undoubtedly seeing them bashed and trashed by SLIPKNOT fans across the board. On the other hand, that's part of what makes "Simon" so alluring. This EP is unapologetically insane, yet fairly well-structured and entertaining at the same time; which is an accomplishment unto itself. Of course, the band does tend to be a bit 'artsy for the sake of being artsy' at times and it should be noted that a group like MADE OUT OF BABIES is producing similar music with more convincing results, but something about "Simon" tells me that Crahan has found his niche outside the 'KNOT and we'll be hearing much more from DIRTY LITTLE RABBITS in the years to come.
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