An Outsider

So Rhine is a project from Gabriel Tachell and some local Pacific Northwest musicians, and is the continuation of his UK act Perfect Harmony, but the name has changed and the the location is now Seattle, Washington. got it? But what matters is how damn good this is. Even with some questionable clean vocals this Opeth ian inspired take on progressive black/death metal is often a sheer joy to listen to and full of stunning moments that blew me away.

Arguably one of the more Opeth-y bands I’ve heard, Rhine deliver a perfect balance of light/dark hues and stern/ beautiful textures, though with slightly more blackened vocals, and the aforementioned clean croon are no Akerfeldt, but luckily they are not over utilized. Look no further than 11 minute opener “Dreaming of Death” to get a clear idea of the band’s obvious influences, the highlight of the track coming about 7 minutes in with a  uplifting, airy melodic canter, where the clean vocals actually work. It even ends in an epic keyboard drenched black metal blast.

And the opener isn’t just the template for the rest of the album , as there are so many other high points that delve into other styles like folk, symphonic, prog and power metal in the album that make it a sheer joy from start to finish. I also get a bit of a Cales/VHOL/Hammers of Misfortune vibe at times as well. “The Spell of Dark Water” is a twisty, shimmery prog rock tune with 70s synths and such. The clean vocals are bit off-putting in the other wise excellent Opeth-y acoustic warble  and death metal explosion of the 9 minute title track and the interlude “Somewhere” is a nice little break. After a shaky start, “Paralyzed” develops into a real gem, with a pure rock mid song bridge,  rousing canter and a doomy closeing couple of minutes.

But it’s later in the album where things get really good. “Dissolved in Fire” is the 70s love child of Opeth and Rush (and the bridge at 4;45 to the songs end is simply brilliant, one of my favorite musical moments of the year) and the rambunctious “P.R.E.Y” with its opening orchestral pomp could be an early Slough Feg song with a infectious gait and chorus.

Unfortunately, “Into the Unknown” brings the positive vibes to a screeching halt with some terrible vocals that sound like a cross dressing Monty Python skit. I’m not sure that they were going for here, but the vocals along with the sudden German beer hall music injection makes the song come across as either a joke or some part in the album’s concept I’m simply missing. Closers “Shipwrecked in Stasis” (a noisy instrumental interlude) and  “Fragments” (an atmosperic number) unfortunately continue the album’s late slump, which leaves a bad taste in your mouth as the album ends.

Even with its late stage shortcomings, I loved An Outsider  and look forward to hearing more from the band if they can continue the sounds that fill the first two thirds of the album rather than the album’s odd last act.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
March 16th, 2016


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