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Horn of the Rhino > Weight of Coronation > Reviews
Horn of the Rhino - Weight of Coronation

Simple and cohesive, the epitome of brutality! - 95%

Kenneth Augustus, December 29th, 2014

I'm not one to usually write music reviews, but having recently uncovered this gem, I felt obligated to write my thoughts on what is quickly becoming one of my favourite albums of all time.

I originally purchased this album solely based on Rafael Garres' bitchin' album art without even knowing what genre it was. Looking at that awesome skull-faced pregnant girl on the cover, can you blame me? But Weight of Coronation isn't just a pretty face. It's one of the most brutal heavy metal albums to which I've ever listened. As soon I fired up "Speaking in Tongues", I was hooked from that first riff. Like the band's previous work, this album fits nicely in the sludge/doom metal genre. Unlike their previous work however, the lead singer Javier Gálvez's vocals are in full effect, contrasting the dark, visceral imagery and heavy instrumentation with a powerful, melodic voice.

The album occasionally dips into thrash territory, but with a heavier, deeper groove. The song structures, whilst somewhat varied, are still repetitive enough that doom fans will find plenty to enjoy with this record, especially with three songs going well over the ten minute mark. Compared to the band's earlier projects (under the name Rhino), the vocals are much cleaner, and the sound feels far more developed and nuanced, thanks in large part to the addition of acoustics and even an organ, highlighting the heavy grooves with an epic, ethereal melody.

Overall, I'd say that the mix works. You wouldn't think that 'melodic' and 'sludge' could ever coexist, but it can. Furthermore, the Spanish trio from Bilbao makes me think it should. This contrast is best seen around 6:40 of "Crushed and Dragged to the Swamp", at which point Gálvez swaps out his electric guitar for an acoustic one, used in conjunction with his haunting echoes. This goes on for a little over a minute, until the distorted guitar returns for a few simple notes before the drums and vocals kick back in for the refrain. Though this is only a small part of one song, I feel it epitomises the album well.

In fact, I'd say brutal simplicity is the best way to describe this whole album. Like any other doom album, simple, repetitive riffs account for the meat of the songs, but each is highlighted with, again, the powerful vocals, which have improved significantly since their first album, Breed The Chosen One, which I felt dipped a bit too far into thrash at times. Rather than forsake their roots as a sludge doom band, they've embraced it and taken it in a different direction, in which sinister, droning riffs collide with dulcet hymns spoken from the mouth of an evil priest. spoken In fact, there's plenty of variety to be found on Weight of Coronation, from the soul-crushing intensity of "Southern Beast" to the dark and ethereal gospel that is "Sovereign", each song is enjoyable to listen to, all sixty-eight minutes of it. That said, if you have little taste for droning music, you may find yourself getting bored, as the shortest song on the album is still nearly five minutes long.

For a doom album, it's incredibly consistent throughout, and manages to maintain your interest, even when most of the songs are over seven minutes long. Rather than simply bashing you over the head with heavy as hell guitar riffs, thundering drums and distorted vocals (thought there's still plenty of said bashing present), the songs tend to alternate between elements of the melodic and the distorted, two clashing elements that rarely work well together. And yet, Horn of the Rhino makes it work. The heavily distorted guitars combine with the insanely twisted lyrics to form a crushing, brutal album that makes you feel as though you've been dragged to the swamp just listening to it. At the same time, Gálvez's voice is totally unlike the harsh screaming of most sludge metal vocalists, making for one of the most unique, wholly enjoyable albums I've ever bought. It's rare to see an album so cohesive, yet so varied. It's even rarer still to hear a band create a sound so incredibly intense and elegantly memorising at the same time.

In many ways, I feel the cover art itself is a perfect representation of the sound presented inside, with the drawing of a long-haired skull-face pregnant beauty taking up roughly half the space and the band and album name beside her surrounded by vaguely coloured empty space. It's simple and to the point, but it manages to draw you in and immerse you completely regardless. The elegance of the naked beauty is contrasted by the demonic horns sticking out of her enlarged pregnant belly, inky black hair and skinless skull face. It's simple, brutal and completely cohesive, just like the sound Horn of the Rhino has created.

What a vocalist! - 85%

AcidWorm, December 27th, 2010

I have heard a fair bit of doom this year and Horn of the Rhino is definitely one of the better discoveries I have made. The music just has that awesome groove making me come back to it time and time again backed by some excellent grunge vocals.

Metal is usually about the riffs with the vocalist being there to help accentuate or compliment the sound. What makes Rhino so unusual is that it is other way around. This is something that would be really difficult to pull off. A band would need a really exceptional vocalist if they wanted to be really good and the vocalist of Rhino is certainly one of these. It should be noted that only some styles of metal would be open to this. This of course would never work in thrash for example where the entire music is revolved around the power of the riffs. Javier’s voice is extremely powerful with his clean singing that is like a cross between Chris Cornel and Layne Staley. It really is some magnificent stuff. There is not a trace of a Spanish accent, as one would expect from a Spaniard.

While I can go on and on about how much I adore Javier’s voice the riffs are no slouch either. The riffs are widely in sludge territory with a fair bit of reverb playing at a moderate pace with a heavy groove that occasionally goes into half-thrash territory. Think of Eyehategod with the groove of High on Fire. There are a fair bit of long instrumental sections where the band just focuses on bludgeoning the ears through the heavy groovy rhythms. The songs are often very long and can go over the 10minute mark but they never seem too much as Horn of the Rhino changes them up at just the right moments.

One track I would like to go into is Sovereign where Javier sounds like the preacher at a funeral with his soul singing and a churches electric piano in the background. A very epic track indeed.

This is one of my top choices for best album of 2010 and it is surprising that these guys are so unknown. If you like bands like Soundgarden, High on Fire, and Eyehategod then I implore you to check this out.