The last song on Rhin’s Bastard, released on 12/1/14 by Grimoire Records – while quite possibly my favorite song on the album – is actually a bit of a sonic departure from the rest of the album. Or, the 2nd half of the song, anyway. The song is called “Consumed”, and around the 5 minute mark (it’s a long song), it releases. The rest of the album is tense and tight, with continually abrupt, angular shifts in time and tone that beg considerable attention from the listener. But for the record’s last five minutes, we see for the first time a version of the band that sounds exhausted. This record has taken a lot out of them. And of us! And so, with whatever’s left in them, they recline a bit to enjoy some much-needed and well-deserved leisure, and the result is somewhat akin to the loosening of a vice grip. Sonically and stylistically, the song has a lazy, hazy 90s vibe to it, one which brought to mind “Pepper” by the Butthole Surfers, or an even more relaxed version of the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Rocket”. It’s a great song, and a perfect closer to a real juggernaut of an album.
Elswhere, the influences that Rhin wear on their sleeves do still hail in large part from the 90s, but with the above exception they more consistently invoke Unsane, Eyehategod, and the Melvins. And like all three of these bands, they do a great job of sounding equally at home both at slow and fast tempos, whether it’s the slow-as-shit tar avalanche that is “Shovel”, or the frenetic, stallions-on-speed blister of “Man is Bastard”. And while the sonic qualities of the album do very strongly bring to mind the aforementioned Unsane and Eyehategod, they manage to borrow all the grit and aggression of these bands, but simultaneously avoid being quite as relentlessly bleak as either. I might even go so far as to say it’s a fun album! It brims with creativity and expression, rather than choosing to simply mire itself in despair.
One of Rhin’s trademark attacks – or at least one of the things I think they do best – is evident as early as the album’s 2nd track, “Bull Doze”. The song begins with a very anchored, very bluesy riff before getting into a more angular and chromatic verse. It’s a nice contrast that keeps cycling back; every time they get back to that first riff it’s a welcome release, while each subsequent verse returns as another turn of the screw. We see the same approach throughout the following song, “Gravy”, which takes even more abrupt turns between those “sweet relief” moments and other, more challenging-to-the-listener spots of chromatic riffage and angular rhythms. The bottom line is, Rhin has a deep trick bag. They can do a lot of different things, both in terms of tonality and tempo, and they don’t hesitate to take advantage of it. Twists and turns all over the place – try keeping up!
The album cover reminded me instantly of the copy of Ovid’s Metamorphoses that got me through college:
The Metamorphoses is all about change (duh), but there are different kinds of change. You can never stand in the same river twice, but what if that river turns to stone?
Bastard is a great album. Buy it here: