Rhino - The Law of Purity - (3.5/10)
Published on March 15, 2017
Any form of stoner music – be that in the vein of Kyuss and Fu Manchu or as heavy as Electric Wizard and Weedeater – deserves to be played loud, to be heard far and wide across the plains of the world. Even at its mellowest, the listener should always feel enveloped by the glorious fuzz and (more often than not) those feel-good vibes the genre is known for. And though most bands choose to stay within the confines of this often-imitated style, it is usually those bands that stand out on top form above the rest. Sadly, Sicilian quintet Rhino do not stand amongst the greats both classic and contemporary and their debut long-player – The Law of Purity – is testament that even tried and tested formulas can be deplorably mistreated and fall stomach-first on to the most ruthless of swords.
Formed in 2012, Rhino play music in the vein of the aforementioned Fu Manchu crossed with the John Garcia machine of Unida and force-fed to Los Natas: unlike labelmates and fellow countrymen Mars Era (Dharmanaut review here) they do not push the genre into outlandish new directions; instead, the music found on The Law of Purity is as generic as possible and not in a good way. Sprawled across nearly fifty minutes the album conjures up soulless stoner rock under a thin two-dimensional wall of fuzz and chosing to not really go anywhere. The music is so in situ that when they eventually burst out into the expanses of the desert in ‘Bursting Out’ and ‘I See The Monsters’ it can be missed if you weren’t paying attention to it.
It’s not so much the components of the music where the problems lie, for there are plenty of decent riffs throughout as well as some cool drum fills, but it’s in how the songs are put together. ‘Nine Months’ consists of a good riff but is sabotaged by horrendously clunky drumming; the admirable bass-heavy grooves of ‘A&B. Brown’ and ‘Eat My Dust’ give way to unpardonably mediocre rhythms. Clouding the dull craftsmanship is the previously mentioned fuzz on the guitar which makes these songs difficult to endure, completely disregarding one of the more important charms of the genre. But above all else, what makes this album particularly unforgiveable are the forced coarse vocals of Frank the Doc: whilst attempting a more raspy approach to his work it just sounds like his voice is constantly straining; it’s harsh and grates on the listener from the offset of the title track all the way until the album finally finishes.
On an album where it’s best song is followed up with arguably one of the worst tracks to come out this year (‘Grey’ – where everything actually comes together nicely – and ‘Nuclear Space’, which is seriously unlistenable), The Law of Purity is an album without any charm the genre offers. When it isn’t busy being as painful as a kidney stone passing through, it is as dull and as unpleasant as a low level job in retail. Rhino offers nothing new to a genre already saturated with as much stale material as there is stellar and fails to ignite any positive emotion deep within. Better bands have taken the template these Italians have chosen with greater results. You should stick with those bands and give this album a miss. Seriously.