Well, well, Horn Of The Rhino from the Basque country do not seize to explore the realm that lies between sludgy doom and thrash metal.
After a dark and eerie intro (Awaiting the Scourge) which could be a promise of just about anything, the trio hurls the listener into the thrashy up-tempo piece Exvenhstench. Even if they keep up the tradition of
lengthy tunes - this one clocks up at almost six and a half minutes - Exvenhstench is kept fresh and interesting with breaks and time shifts beside the raw thrash power.
Now, I like diversity a lot, but the culture shock when we move into the next tune is for me a balance that isn't quite struck; Onward Through Domination is completely different in it's expression. A typical neo-doom song, slow and heavy, with clean vocals and more than seven minutes long. Somehow I feel it drains the album of energy. High Priest is another shot of energy that has more of the power we heard in Exvenhstench. This is of course good, but the overall quality of the song doesn't cut it in my view. I don't know why, but singer/guitarist Javier's vocal style somehow reminds me of Accept - which is not a bad thing from the outset, but in this context it sounds odd.
Their Tombs on the other hand works very, very well for me. Especially the upbeat, flowing groove of the first part of the song before it turns into a rudimentary 80s crossover thrash tune hits right home. Interesting mix, methinks.
Deliverance Prayer takes us back into doom country. This one is luckily a bit more dynamic than Onward Through Domination and Javier interestingly enough sounds a lot like Chris Cornell at times.
Behind the odd title Drogg Öm Thraal hides something that sound like a rite of sorts. Just weirdness, basically.
That, however, leads directly into the double pedal flow of Grim Foreigners. A thrashy tune with a slightly mystical feel. Definitely has a Slayer ring to it. I can't complain about that!
The Slayer inspiration continues in Builder Of Carrion Effigies. This is a full-on thrash tune and is the song where drummer Julen is paying his dues and punishes his kit like a drum robot on speed. Again, with more than eight minutes on the counter, this is in that sense not a typical thrash song. Also, around five minutes and ten seconds into the tune, there's a fairly long 20-30 second piece with nothing but a guitar riff. No drums, no bass, just guitar. And it's not as if it's a solo in the sense you think. Just a solid riff. A bit unusual, but also cool. Why make things too complicated?
An Excess of Faith reminds me of Gorefest, expect the vocals. The song Broken Wing from 'Chapter 13' sprang to mind immediately, when I first heard An Excess of Faith. Actually just the whole sound of that 1997 album. Again, this is not a bad thing.
Warning! Spoiler alert:
Speaking of the nineties: Horn Of The Rhino have decided to do a thing that is SO nineties. A hidden track! When was the last time you saw that in a day and age where CD's are dying out?! Track 66 is a unnamed song (for all I know), but a surprising one at that, and actually probably the song I like second best after Their Tombs. The song has a Fields of the Nephilim/British eighties Goth rock touch to it, that special mellow energy which I've grown to love over the years.
In conclusion I think Horn Of The Rhino have yet again proved their ability to play around with the darkest domains of metal, but, more so than was the case the last album I reviewed by the band, 'Grengus'(2012), I'm missing a red thread or, rather, a symbiosis between songs, and also, Javier will probably never be my favourite vocalist, something which of course also has a say.