Kent, also known as the garden of England, has never really been renowned as a hotbed of heavy music. Perhaps its pastoral settings and historic towns lend themselves more to whimsical folk ballads than raging hardcore but FEED THE RHINO might just be the band to challenge that opinion.
Formed in 2008 their hardcore/metal blend has seen them earn a reputation as a ferocious live band, now on their fourth album they’ll be hoping this is the one to push them up to the next level. The good news is they certainly have all the tools to make that next step and The Silence is a fine showcase for their talents.
Lead singer Lee Tobin’s estuary bark - reminiscent of Frank Carter’s when he fronted Gallows - grabs you by the throat, but it is when he switches to the soaring clean vocals that he delivers the knockout blow. It is rare that a vocalist can change so organically between the two, and maintain the power as well. But Tobin manages it effortlessly. His mournful tones on ‘Losing Ground’ and ‘The Silence’ edge the band out of hardcore territory and towards the alternative metal sound of Tool or Deftones.
Musically too they stand out from the pack. There is almost a stoner groove to songs like ‘All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy’ and ‘Yellow and Green’, the solo in the latter even has hints of classic-era Paradise Lost.
The entire album is peppered with huge hooks between the angst and anger, ‘Heedless’ and ‘Featherweight’ are the kind of big, catchy anthems that metal bands seemed to have eschewed in recent years for long, progressive epics but Feed the Rhino serve them up ready made for the mosh pit.
Live shows are their bread and butter but it’s good to hear a band that has obviously taken the time to craft an album that stands up to closer scrutiny than the live environment allows, they certainly aren’t a one-trick pony reliant only on power, they handle the gentler moments deftly and weave them into their songs that you almost don’t notice they’ve done it, until the crunching guitars kick back in and the explode in your eardrums once again.
The only criticism of the album is that it’s all a little too polished, they’ve obviously worked hard in the studio to perfect these tunes but there is a feeling that perhaps they’re lacking some of the rawness that you’d expect in such a band and while it sounds technically excellent the emotional impact of the songs is lost slightly.
That is a minor gripe however, and overall does little to detract from a nuanced, subtly different album that blends aggression and groove seamlessly. Whether or not it will push them into the big leagues is impossible to say but it’s certainly an album that demands to be listened to and rewards those that do. The boys have done Kent proud.
And not a whimsical folk ballad in sight.
Feed the Rhino are:
Lee Tobin - Vocals
James Colley - Guitars
Chis Kybert – Drums
Oz Craggs – Bass
Sam Colley – Guitars
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