Whilst going through my first listen of Rhine’s debut album, Duality, I couldn’t decide whether to applaud or laugh at the one-man-band efforts of Gabriel Tachell. Laugh might sound like a mean response to someone’s hard work, but I assure you that it isn’t my intention to disrespect anyone. Rather, it is due to the ultimate freedom that this album displays, and actively explores. While Rhine has created a chiefly death metal release, it is certainly progressive in many ways, the contrast of which can be humorous when you hear it for the first time. One thing is certain, however: there is a musicality to Duality that is not only impressive, but alluring and refreshing.
I’m very particular about my death metal. If the vocals don’t contain a particular growl to screech ratio, or if they’re not guttural enough…or too guttural, then it just won’t do! I’m just kidding, of course. I don’t sit here and measure these things, but honestly, there are very few vocalists that I really like in the field of harsh singing. Some of the ones that come to mind that I really like are Lamb Of God’s Randy Blythe, Death’s Chuck Schuldiner, and Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt. Now I believe it’s time to add Gabriel Tachell to that list. He has a vocal depth that not only hits you in the gut and sends out vibrations, but rises up to a screech that will cut to the bone but is short of being shrill. Being able to understand most of the words to the songs helps too!
I mentioned laughing and applauding. That is because Rhine is unafraid of boundaries. The music is played superbly and there is never a doubt that a single note has gone astray. The riffs are tight and full, but do wise to shy away from being a wall of noise. If the music isn’t dynamic, and a wall of noise is not, then there is no room to breathe and the song suffocates. Duality ranges from brutal, but groove-filled guitar passages to delicate airy notes that linger and fade. Not since Opeth’s Blackwater Park have I been this enthralled by a death metal release. Powerhouses like “Masking Hostility” burn the ears and the soothing sounds of songs like “Forgotten Soul” provide the salve. But there is a more playful side to this release as well. Take the song “Goregeous” for instance, which simply in name shows the dual nature of this album. While starting off extremely heavy, and intricate – the twin guitars doubling a computerized lick – it transforms into…something. Imagine if The Darkness was trying to parody itself. That’s honestly the best way I can describe it. And I’m pretty sure that the short excursion, which lasts for only a minute before returning to its death metal origins, gets kicked off with a burb.
This is a thick album and one obvious reason for that is due to it beginning with a 9+ minute track entitled “Until Death Remains” and ending with an epic 17 minute moody closer called “Living In Perfect Harmony.” As it a result, it may not make it onto your Summer Drive Mix next time you hit the road. But for those who feel like brooding, or want to jam out to some well-done death metal, I urge you to give this a listen. The music is atmospheric, but not nearly so dissonant as to detract from it being enjoyable. Gabriel Tachell has impressed me with not only his talent as a player, but how he could make this release feel so much like a unified band effort while doing everything himself. Rhine is currently working on its sophomore release, this time with a line-up that has been perfecting itself on the road, even supporting Sepultura. With the fantastic performance on Duality I can only imagine what shall result from this combined effort. May we not need wait long!