If the name RSJ seems familiar to you it’s probably because they’ve supported most of the biggest and not-so-biggest names in metal ever since their formation. They’re the kind of band that will impress you with their muscular groove metal, energetic stage presence and underdog appeal. You’ll nod along to their songs, applaud loudly, tell your mates how good they were. By the end of next week you’ll have forgotten all about them. This is a shame, however, as second full-length release “Higgs Boson” shows just how much this five-piece act have to offer, and why you should pay attention.
Opener ‘His Name is Robert Paulson’ tears out of the speakers armed with a hefty guitar tone that recalls Kataklysm in their fierce prime yet also calls to mind much-loved U.K. progressive metallers SikTh with its spiralling guitar lines. These two disparate elements are fused together pretty much seamlessly and the only thing that seems dated is the song title seeing as Fight Club came out 15 years ago. The infectious grooves continue with the short and snappy ‘Collectively We Are Tall’ which crackles with energy, and the head-caving riffage of ‘Running With Scissors’ which neatly splices in abrasive, jarring segments alongside proto death metal riffs and a thoughtful, vaguely post-metal flavoured outro. It’s an intriguing combination of styles and one that works very well.
‘Cataracts’ continues the themes of earlier with its uneasy, staccato riffs and throat-tearing screams, even throwing in a few death grunts for good measure. The feeling that the band occasionally want to cut loose and launch into a full-on Dillinger Escape Plan style freak-out remains throughout but it seems that they’re more interested in writing finely-tuned groove metal anthems with only a nod to the wilder side, which is something we can be thankful for, or we wouldn’t have the driving assault of ‘I Did Not Die’ or the bruising chugs, melodic swells and feral screams of closing track ‘Oceans’ to admire.
Considering they’ve been around for a while, it would be nice to see some more material from RSJ apart from “Higgs Boson” and their debut album, but when the quality is this good it doesn’t matter, and is clear evidence that time spent putting the hours in on the touring circuit is essential if you want to make a name for yourself. So go check RSJ out, they’re much easier to bump into then the title of this album.