So, it turns out nailing me with three of my favourite artists as comparables to a band is the best way for me to get hooked into a new band straight away. The press blurb for the new record from progressive Seattle metallers Rhine namedrops Devin Townsend, Opeth and Enslaved as potential comaprisons, so colour me intrigued as to how this is going to turn out…
Formally a solo project, this second album from Rhine sees founder member Gabriel Tachell joined by a full band to complete ‘An Outsider’. Opening epic ‘Dreaming of Death’ builds slowly, with shades of Townsend in the harsh vocals, and the juddering riffing traces its lineage back to the ‘RUUN’ or ‘ISA’ Enslaved records. ‘An Outsider’ has that tendency, like a lot of progressive metal records, to feel slightly disjointed in places, full of ideas but not all executed quite right. Thankfully, these are few and far between here.
Rhine dash between delicate acoustics, sweeping grandeur and spiralling heavy metal. There’s bluesy organ appearing on the jagged ‘Spell of Dark Water’, the glacial Opeth leanings of the title track, bouncy synths on ‘Prey’ or the enigmatic ‘Paralyzed’. Each song has its share of heavier and quieter moments, and while they all have a similar approach, each is executed well enough to avoid feeling samey. ‘Dissolved in Fire’ has an intro that seems like it was taken from a computer game, but then it crumbles into a sleek riff heavy assault. The almost Mercyful Fate-esque ‘Into the Unknown’ is a late highlight, with the theatrical vocals being particularly impressive.
My only real issue is the length of the album, which stretches over a full 70 minutes. I’ve never really been one for really long records, and ‘An Outsider’ was a little too much all in one go. Take it in pieces, and its much more rewarding. If you’re in the mood for a dazzling spiral of prog metal, then this is it. If not, you might find it a bit of an endurance test.