Saturday, February 25, 2012

Horn of the Rhino - Grengus

Spain's doomsters Horn of the Rhino (previously just known as Rhino) released their newest album "Grengus" earlier this month. I'm not familiar with their older material, so I went into this record without any kind of specific expectations. This review, therefore, will be of little or no value in helping established fans place this record in the context of band's full catalog.

The music here is generally slow, though several songs are more mid-paced. Churning guitar backed by plenty of bass forms the core of the music, the latter helping enormously to fill out the overall sound. The songs are built on a series of guitar riffs, and as is often the case with 3-piece bands, there isn't much extra fat to be found in the instrumentation department. The songs are stripped down and devoid of any keyboards or other flowery musical additions. The all-important riffs here are solid and they are certainly heavy. Unfortunately, however, they are not particularly inventive or varied. This stands in stark contrast with the vocal work. At first I found the vocalist to be slightly annoying. After a very short time he began to grow on me, though, and now I would probably call the vocals this album's greatest strength. Range and variety really work in the vocalist's favor on this record. The clean-but-edgy baritone on the title track and the vaguely John Tardy-esque bellows on tracks like "Awaken Horror of Tuul" reside in very different parts of the vocal spectrum, yet they are executed here with equal authority and effectiveness.

My biggest complaint about this album would definitely be the tendency for the guitar work to grow a little too redundant. I understand that such a trait is not uncommon in the doom world, but I feel like it would be easier to pull off such a high amount of repetition if the band tended to play at a slower pace. As it is, the lack of variation in the riffs can make the songs feel a little bland at times. Despite this setback, I still find the overall effect of the music to be quite enjoyable. On a side note, it took me several minutes to process what the album art actually depicts. Now that said processing has occurred, I can't look at the artwork anymore without being distracted by the giant dong right in the middle of the cover.

Grade: B
Musically it's solid, but it probably won't blow your mind.

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