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  RHINE
'An Outsider'
(Independent release)
Out Now


jools green

Jools Green



rhine

Throw any preconceived ideas about Progressive Death Metal you have out the window because 'An Outsider', the second full length from Rhine, the Progressive Death Metal duo from Seattle, goes beyond those ideas.

It doesn't just encompass subtle elements from pretty much every Metal-related genre you can imagine, but from every era since the beginnings of Rock/Metal, with a fluidity and uniqueness that is both impressive and mind boggling.

To get an idea what the album is about, band founder Gabriel Tachell's comments: "The name 'An Outsider' is about the struggle that comes with being different, it's a love/hate situation. You want to shine but you're afraid of it at the same time. You want to create trends, not follow them, but it's scary to be the first one. It also has to do with social struggles and always feeling like a stranger."

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The ten track, eighty-three minute offering, has guitars and vocals, programming, composition, production and mixing all by band mastermind Gabriel, and drum work delivered with impressive competence, particularly given the complexity of this release, by Sean Lang.

Gabriel is also the primary inspiration for the album material, referencing experiences in his life from emotional turmoil, health issues, fairy tales, to dreams of finding corpses floating in a swamp.

From a descriptive perspective it's hard to do this album justice in mere words, it's just so unpredictable and adventurous, particularly the longer tracks and there are some epic great monsters of over ten minute duration. These fully make use of every second with their innovative and bizarre in a good way, rapidly changing tempo and style, fluidly mixing beauty and brutality in an effective, intricate and complex manner.

The opening, haunting, almost creepy cleans on the first track 'Dreaming of Death' match the slightly unnerving lyrics before a switch to rasping harsh vocals and punchy riffs. It's a track of two halves because after a brief pause the mood becomes lighter and almost psychedelic with clean vocals and powerfully reflective lyrics, there's a strong sense when you listen, of floating in a dream here.

'The Spell of Dark Water' has a great contrast between slow, slightly distorted riffing, echoing cleans and haunting emotive lead work, followed by superb screaming, harsh vocals balanced with keyboards. The track takes a very blackened psychedelic turn with slightly jazz influence as the tempo drops away, closing on a wonderfully bizarre, off kilter, improvised section.



The best thing about all the vocals on this album is that regardless of the style they are being delivered in, the lyrical content is crystal clear.

Title track 'An Outsider' has superbly deep vocals at times, in this more straightforward offering, with an abundance of clean guitar work and clean vocals, closing on a crushing finale of manic keyboards and deep brutal vocals.

'Somewhere', one of the shorter tracks at just three and a half minutes is an instrumental piece that is a haunting mix of clean guitar work with a distorted overlay, very effective.

On 'Paralyzed', the first half of the track has punchy drum and guitar rhythms with extraordinary cleans that build and soar into an almost Gaahl-like deranged, high scream and a strong Enslaved influence to some of the riffs across the track, the pace dropping to make way for some great lead work in the first half.



With quirky repeat keyboards to open and repeat riffs expanding into chunks of excellent lead work 'Dissolved in Fire' is one of the more straightforward tracks, by Rhine's standards anyhow, ending on a great little acoustic segment.

'P.R.E.Y.' is just superbly bizarre. The first minute has the mood of an Elizabethan Christmas Carol, with synthesised flutes and brass band, then breaking into galloping melody before turning into a "band of pirates" for in the chorus, this track will leave you smiling for sure.

The perfectly titled 'Into the Unknown', because that's exactly where this track leads you, begins with guitar work with an eastern tinge and stunningly unreal vocals from harsh growls to unbelievably impressive falsettos and soaring melodies. There are swift direction changes and a fairground interlude which did remind me a touch of Sadist but this takes over where they leave off.

I love this track, possibly my favourite of the album but it's one hell of a difficult choice, the rest are so good.

'Shipwrecked In Stasis' takes you to the opposite extreme, an ear-shredding soundscape which sets your teeth on edge, underlying drum rhythms and haunting keyboards and the vocals are just one extended expressive scream spanning a whole minute as the drum work intensifies - superb.

The final track 'Fragments' begins with the sound of a door opening, someone crossing a room and then a drone build, you can't help wonder what next?

Again it's a carefully considered contrast with clean guitars, rhythmic pounding drums and a haunting clean vocal and guitar repeat followed by more layers of drone and noise giving a psychedelic, hypnotic effect, keeping you stunned and surprised to the very last note.

This is an album that should be of great interest to fans of Opeth or Devin Townsend because of the quirky progressive nature or possibly even fans of Enslaved or Sadist as you will certainly feel the influence of these artists.

One thing is certain however, the first time you listen to 'An Outsider' it will be open mouthed in disbelief because it's so utterly phenomenal and with every listen it just sounds even better.

The good news is that Gabriel Tachell is now joined by Alex Smolin on guitar (ex-Metameric), James Porter on bass (Ideofone), and Carlos Delgado on drums (Inferion, ex-Death Crowned King) to bring this performance to the live venue.

A chance to see this and the previous album performed live is one not to be missed.


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07.02.16













 


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