There’s something about the act of headbanging that’s more than just an expression of joy — something that speaks to the way a great riff makes you wish your head was a boxer’s speed ball getting walloped into oblivion. “Skin a Rat,” a new song from L.A.-based artist Sasami, has exactly that kind of riff.
“Skin a Rat” is one of two new songs Sasami dropped earlier this week from her upcoming album Squeeze, out Feb. 25, 2022 (“The Greatest” is far less heavy, though no less compelling). It is, by all measures, an absolute slugfest of a song, from the aforementioned riff to the pile-driver drums and throat-shredding vocals. All of this is a delirious delight, but to the immense benefit of “Skin a Rat,” Sasami finds just the right amount of funny to balance the fury.
“Skin a Rat” opens with a nod to the classic horror trope of a sweet, innocent child singing an eerie tune, in this case, “There are many ways to skin a rat.” It’s got that haunted jingle vibe, but it doesn’t leaden the song with a sense of self-seriousness. The ensuing instrumental pummel is too perfectly crafted, but more than that, it’s a cheeky, hyper-cheery breakdown — plopped halfway through — that confirms Sasami isn’t merely out here trying to flex hard-rock menace.
“Skin a Rat” clearly has a deep appreciation for the most brutal, gnarly, head-pounding rock out there — that’s Megadeth’s Dirk Verbeuren slamming the drums, by the way — but it also deftly incorporates some much-needed self-aware camp. While Verbeuren boosts the song’s hard-rock bona fides, Sasami bulks up the vocals with two unexpected voices: Vagabon’s Laetitia Tamko and comedian Patti Harrison, who join Sasami on the snarling hook, “Hell-fucked economy/Crisis identity/Hell-fucked, hell-fucked!”
For a song just over two-and-a-half minutes, “Skin a Rat” lands a whole bunch of different blows, each harder and more unexpected than the last. And, like all good rock & roll bruisings, the moment it’s over, you’re ready to spin it back for more.
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