Review: “Ausland” by Rhine

“Our new album Ausland explores some pretty cynical and nihilistic themes. It’s a mix of personal struggles with depression, fear and conflict, and some politically driven stuff about privilege, capitalism, the environment etc. The album is heavier than previous releases, with more refined song writing and is generally more cohesive, but still has plenty of proggy twists and turns. The title Ausland means foreign place in German, which kind of summarizes the whole feeling of living in this world right now. It also harkens back to my childhood living in Germany, where “Auslander” (foreigners) were forced into the lower class by societal structures, my first encounter with the hate and discrimination that plagues the whole world.” ~ Gabriel Tachell

Celebrating a decade of destruction since their 2011 formation this year, Seattle Washington’s Rhine began as the solo project of multi instrumentalist Gabriel Tachell with album “Duality” before evolving with sessions musicians before becoming a fully fledged band, their third album “Ausland” represents something of a return to those earlier days. The majority of the record written and recorded by Tachell alongside session drummer Daryl Williams with contributions from current guitarist Andrew Dennis and previous one Alex Smolin during a two year period where in the eyes of the World the band were split up following a 2017 split EP with Rat King. Often labelled as Progressive Death Metal, there have been elements of European influence from Black, Folk and Melodic Death Metal wrapped within the previous works of Rhine, making them one of those bands that in reality you can’t pin a genre tag on. There is no fear in straying from the path of a genre to create something that matches the vision of the musician and that is always something that should be cherished.

In “Ausland” there are flavours that make for easy comparison with bands like Between The Buried And Me and perhaps even Allegaeon with vibrant textures and delicate moments at the edges that combine with heavier, faster and groovier pieces in each song to formulate the perfect puzzle. Riffs fuse Death Metal traditions with borderline DJent tones in the opening pair of feral cuts in “Virtual Plague” and “Prisoner of Fate“, Tachell being powerhouse vocalist whose brutal roars are unclean enough to satisfy while clean enough to hear every single word and there is something about his voice that reminds of the unclean vocal style of Devin Townsend in his Strapping Young Lad days. Between the introduction piece and “Running Away” eerie, haunting melodies have been nailed like a corpse to a cross in a horror film creating atmospheric breaks to bridge sonic breaks between the heavier parts and keep you on edge. They’re enthralling and make the record a captivating one while Tachell hasn’t allowed the programming to outshine the guitar work in the mix but simply embellish it. Oh and that Acid Jazz part in “Running Away” is as absolutely stunning as it is unexpected and there is no issue with keeping things running smoothly in the longer tracks either because the 7, 8 and even 9 minute cuts are full of clever ideas. “The Path to Power” brings with it interesting orchestration that adds swashbuckling almost Power or Pirate Metal vibe to it without taking away any of the core elements of the bands sound, while the melancholic central guitar part is beautiful and sounds like it belongs on a record from The Contortionist. But the best cut on “Ausland” the stunning finale that is “Shadow Future“, a cut which starts off with the kind of riff that cracks a smile onto the face of even the most hardened Metal Head and brings that instant head bang before progressing through some incredible kit work from Williams (who needs to take a bow) into some Earth moving programming that is mind blowing. Tachell is a mastermind and he’s created something both Progressive and Metal that needs to be sung about from the rooftops [8/10]

Track listing

1. Prelude
2. Virtual Plague
3. Prisoner of Fate
4. Running Away
5. Ausland
6. The Path to Power
7. Trivial
8. Shadow Future

Ausland” by Rhine is out 12th November 2021 via Within The Mind Records

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