CD Review: ‘An Outsider’ by Rhine

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Six months ago I was elated with the discovery of Rhine’s debut album, Duality, which enthralled me more than any other progressive death metal release had done in years.  I even had the honor of speaking with founder and frontman, Gabriel Tachell, digging deeper into the LP which he had written, performed, and produced single-handedly.  Now, here I sit with an advanced copy of Rhine’s sophomore release, An Outsider, which will hit music stands Feb. 5, 2016, elated once again.  Tachell has managed to conjure up a collection of tracks that take the edges of Duality and expand them, with deeper lows, groovier rhythms, and even more magnificent melodies.

If I had to vote on one song that best captures this entire album, it would undoubtedly be the initial track, “Dreaming Of Death.”  With its breathy, ominous opening; its shifting set of nail-pounding riffs; and its flowing landscape of moods, it captures much of what has made me love Rhine.  Tachell’s voice switches back and forth between pleasantly clean vocals, guttural bellows, as well as shrieks which bring to mind Coroner’s Roy Royce.  Yet, towards the end we’re carried away on a wave of acoustic guitars coupled sparsely with piano and orchestral strings, airing at times towards sounds of early Opeth.  Next thing you know, we’re surrounded by an uplifting, cathartic climax of instrumentation which throws us off the cusp into the ocean of the rest of the album.

One might wonder how things could possibly get better after such a stunning showcase.  Yet, whether we’re talking about the heart-melting guitar solo from “Spell Of Dark Water;” the eerie organ-work in “Somewhere;” or the regal horn/harpsichord section of “P.R.E.Y.,” which surely must herald the coming of a Wall Of Death at live shows, each manages to be a Grade A Prime Cut.  If the last mention didn’t alert you, even the unabashed humor has made a return.  This is most noticeable on the track “Into The Unknown,” which features a trade-off between brutally harsh vocals and Tachell’s frolicking falsetto, not to mention…well, I don’t want to spoil everything!  Just be prepared.

An Outsider is an extremely diverse offering, combining tongue-in-cheek moments with extremely serious and bleak subject matter.  Our ears may hear a circus-esque piece of instrumentation and later hear lyrics such as “it’s hard to want to live just to die.” As life blends randomly moments of joy and sorrow, so Tachell blends seemingly disagreeable tones and moods into a musical landscape.  And you know what?  It’s superbly done.  An Outsider is a grand release that will undoubtedly lead Rhine to some deserved recognition.

Pre-Order/Buy An Outsider here: From The Band

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