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Horn of the Rhino > Weight of Coronation > Reviews > Kenneth Augustus
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.