Friday, January 16, 2009

Rhino - Dead Throne Monarch (2009)

When I saw the cover for this album I was hoping for some extremely angry doom and sludge, and as I listened through the album I was definitely not disappointed. In fact, I was quite blown away. Rhino is a three piece from Spain, and they are pissed. They take thrash and hardcore roots and then slow them down to create a churning emotional holocaust. Crank this fucker up in your old, rotted pickup truck and hit the highway.

The title track kicks off the album with the arrival of some mean chords and Javier's brutal vocals. This guy gives Eyehategod and Soilent Green a run for their money with his hoarse, throaty grunts. "Reins of the Warlord" is what happens when you take grinding guitars, slow them way the hell down and then beat someone repeatedly in the head. Somewhere, somehow, I like to think that somebody is getting a bloody nose when hearing this song, whether self-inflicted or not. "Earth Reclaims the Usurper" begins with plodding bass and giant doom riffs, plus the lyrics here are just fucking sick. Other choice tracks include the thrashing "Pale Horses Coming", the tortured doom blues of "Funebre", and the excellent chanting of "Promise of Storm", one of the best doom songs I've heard in ages. But you can't go wrong with any of these tracks. The band is successful whether charging forward at a slow gallop or picking up the pace a little to thrash your skull.

The mix is just as important here, because it's glorious, picking up the almost tribal drumming, the perfectly balanced chugging of the guitars and the ominous, lurking bass guitar. The album simply crushes, as it should. I can easily recommend this to a wide range of potential appreciators. It should appeal to fans of the Louisiana sludge pioneers (I mentioned some of them above). It will likely appeal to stoner rockers, and also fans of extremely grim English doom like Electric Wizard or Ramesses. This trio craves and deserves some attention, and they are a band worthy of their name.

Verdict: Epic Win [9/10]

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