Dead Throne Monarch

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This is some heavy shit - 95%
Written by gk on February 17th, 2009
Are you one of those people that sit up late at night and cry yourself to sleep because it’s been so long since Eyehategod and Crowbar put out albums? Well, if you are, then Spain’s Rhino might be for you. To put it mildly, Dead Throne Monarch is some heavy shit.

This is the band’s second album and they’ve definitely upped the ante here. The album starts with what sounds like the vocalist dry heaving into a toilet bowl before the first of many thunderous riffs come crashing down. Rhino could probably be best described as sludge doom but the band is not as one dimensional as that makes them sound. They might be closest to the likes of Crowbar and EyeHateGod but there is a bit of The Melvins, some Soundgarden and some punk and thrash elements thrown in for good measure.

There are a lot of really good songs on this album but I think you’re liking of this will entirely depend on the opening trio of Dead Throne Monarch, Reins of the Warlord and Earth Reclaims the Usurper. All three songs are heavy as fuck but while the title song is a devastating combination of riffs and vocals played out like Crowbar, the second is a bit more upbeat and groovy with an almost thrash sound and the lengthy Earth Reclaims… is more crawling, heavy as fuck doom metal. Funebre is the mid album epic at over fifteen minutes and is more crawling doom metal but helped immeasurably by the vocalist who sings clean and sounds like a cross between Cornell and Staley. Great stuff. Elsewhere on the album, Wolf among Black Sheep ups the tempo while Bahamut sounds like Alice in Chains jamming with Melvins and is another great song. The album closes with the one two blow of Wendigo and Horned Crown and while the former is a gentle, acoustic song Horned Crown is an upbeat, thrashy song with another demented vocal performance.

There’s very little that can be faulted in Dead Throne Monarch. At just over seventy minutes and with 10 songs of really fucking heavy sludge metal, the album is not for the faint of heart. However if you like the whole sludge thing then Rhino has delivered a pretty essential album and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Originally written for http://www.kvltsite.com

Heavy Planet Stoner Rock Blog
What would you get if you mixed sludge metal, doom metal, thrash, death metal and grunge (yes, grunge) in a heavy iron cauldron? You would get an album called Dead Throne Monarch with a side of Rhino. Yes, I know that is an over-used opening style, but when you hear this music you will understand. It threatens to defy the very idea of being stuck in any one genre. This is infectious, groove-filled, heavy music that is not unlike getting hit repeatedly with a brick and liking it! Every so often you will come across a band that quite unexpectedly delivers everything you did not know you were looking for at that very moment. The last time this happened for me was back in the Fall of 2007 when I first encountered the French act Gojira. It was a live show and as soon as they began my jaw dropped. Heavy, intense, and just, well, heavy! When I first hit play on the opening title track, Rhino induced a similar reaction.

The first sound you hear sounds like vocalist Javier Galvez is removing his vocal cords through sheer will. It is enough to give you momentary pause, but before it sinks in the guitars hit with this heavy sludgy riff that reinforces the vocal cord vomitous that the track began with. "Dead Throne Monarch" proceeds to run roughshod through the musical gamut from sludge to thrash to grunge, thus keeping you off guard as to what to expect.

The title sludger is followed by "Reins of the Warlord," a track that retains the Rhino sound demonstrated in the prior track, while being a bit more of an uptempo thrasher. That is followed by the epic "Earth Reclaims the Usurper." This one is decidedly more along the doom/sludge line, and again retains that distinctive Rhino-ness that permeated the first couple of tracks. The fourth track sees the band letting their grunge flag fly. After hinting at it a couple of times throughout the opening songs, "Bahamut" lets loose wit a heavy sludge attack that seems to have been directly inspired by Alice in Chains, with perhaps a touch of Danzig. Listen as Galvez frees his vocal cords from the sludgy, blood-soaked shackles and delivers a haunting pained wail the late Layne Staley would have been proud of. Alice in Chains was always the "most metal" band to emerge the grunge scene, and this tune seems to play out what it might have been like had they gone all the way into metal territory.

If nothing else, Rhino keeps you guessing what is coming next while continuing to deliver on the promises made early on. Dead Throne Monarch is an absolutely punishing dose of relentless brutal metal. Listening to this is likely to cause bruises. With a total of ten tracks clocking in just north of seventy-minutes, there is ample opportunity to be drawn into the sludgy surge. Guaranteed to leave battered, beaten, and thoroughly satisfied.

Hailing from Spain, this trio has only been around since 2004, with this being their sophomore release, they are fast proving to be a band to keep an eye on. I am unsure how far into mainstream recognition they will go, but if there is justice they will be discovered.

Bottomline. This is one of those albums that jumps ahead early and is bound to be among my favorites come the end of the year. If you are a metal fan this is an absolute must own. There can be no questions. Dead Throne Monarch will be yours, you will recognize the excellence. It is inevitable.

Highly Recommended. Voted album of the week 4/20/09 - Chris Beaumont

Reading about Spanish trio Rhino before I ever heard them, their sound was described, more or less, as “thrash-meets-doom.” I sat for a second and speculated, “So it sounds like High on Fire.”

It’s true, parts of Dead Throne Monarch — Rhino’s second album in as many years — show a resemblance to or influence from the increasingly seminal San Francisco speedlords, but there’s more to their sound than mere Pikeries. Guitarist/vocalist/main songwriter Javier Gálvez has been in sundry thrash and death metal bands for two decades, and he certainly brings that sense of brutality and urgency – if not always the speed — to this project.

The brutal groove that pervades throughout could be measured as a more diverse take on Birds of Prey’s visceral attack, and though Rhino does change things up with shades of raw doom and sludge, grunge and even acoustics, the jump from one to the other is rarely so outlandish as to interrupt the solid head-nod/bang the previous part spawned. That is, where every time Soilent Green locks in a decent groove they only keep it for two measures before going onto the next thing, Rhino isn’t afraid to ride it out for a while. Chalk it up to the differences between doom and grind.

Dead Throne Monarch opens with the title track and some nasty, mostly-indecipherable slurred snarling from Gálvez, while bassist Sergio “Rambo” Robles and drummer Julen Gil march in thunderously metallic lock step. As much as Gálvez proves over the next several tracks to be the star of the band — mostly because of his varied vocal approach — Robles and Gil also show themselves as essential from the outset. Every member of the trio performs strongly, and as the more blatantly High on Fire-derived “Reins of the Warlord” shows, they’re all needed.

Gálvez employs a gruff, throaty voice on “Reins,” which sits well atop the sludgy groove, but as the song crash lands into the nine-minute highlight “Earth Reclaims the Usurper,” the atmosphere takes a trench-bound nosedive into doomed riffer madness. Shades of Down crop up at 7:23 with a guitar-led charge similar in mindset to “Bury Me in Smoke” — not the only time this happens on Dead Throne Monarch — and the culmination of the song shows just how massive and unrelenting Rhino can be. Though the opening of “Bahamüt” sounds so much like Nile I had to check and make sure it wasn’t a cover (it’s not), even that isn’t out of place as it transitions into start-stop aggression and another vocal change as Gálvez works some drawn out Alice in Chains harmony in with his shouts.

By this time, it’s clear that despite the Bilbao residents’ superficial simplicity — the name, the thrash/doom des c r i p tions, etc. — there’s more to Dead Throne Monarch than just one influence or sound. They offer a shorter, thrashier cut with the drum-launched “Pale Horses Coming,” which serves as a suitable lead-in for the 15-minute epic “Funebre,” a song that would close many records. Skies darken with clouds drawn in by slow, lumbering guitars and insistent tom-work from Gil, and the track reveals itself as not only the longest on the record, but the deepest foray into doomed recesses. A soulful, Soundgarden-esque, oft-unhinged multi-tracked clean vocal from Gálvez provides another album highlight, and I can only imagine the smiles that came across Robles‘ and Gil’s faces the first time they heard the riff that propels the second half of the song forward at 7:52. If the one that came across mine is any measure, they would have been considerable.

Inevitably, even as the song runs at full-speed, “Wolf Among Black Sheep” was destined to be anti-climactic. There’s a reason records end with the long-ass, killer doom cuts — because following them is hard as hell. In a different place, the Surrounded by Thieves-ism likely wouldn’t suffer such a fate, but as all of the 3:57 run time is needed to recover from the 15:02 preceding, the song is too easily overlooked. The melodic vocals (more AIC, and well done at that, especially considering it’s only one dude doing them) reappear on the slower, acoustically-introduced “Promise of Storm,” and by the time the Yob “The Mental Tyrant”-esque triplet riff arrives following an impecable transition at 4:05, Dead Throne Monarch is once again in control of your ears and psychological well-being; both of which have been marked for termination, by the way. Sorry, that’s how it goes.

“Wendigo” offers much-needed acoustic reprieve and yet another harmonized vocal highlight, which approaches Zakk Wyldey levels of “Whoa-yeah-mama” silliness gracefully without crossing over, and as a summation of everything before it, the sludge breakdown-imbued, double-kicked/triplet-riffed, fuck-all thrashfest of closer “Horned Crown” shows suitably what you’d wear sitting as a Dead Throne Monarch. If that’s the case, sign me up.

My worst fear for this album is that I’ll log it, send out the “Hey, this has been reviewed here’s the link,” email, stick it on my shelf and forget about it. Were that scenario to manifest, rest assured it would be my loss. As it stands, Rhino is more than welcome to use my ears as a punching bag anytime they need to, safety and reasonability be damned. - JJ Koczan

Rock N Roll Experience
Rhino is a 3 piece band band from Spain that blends modern metal with touches of death metal, elements of prog metal & overall the vocals are harsh & coarse, the guitars are gritty with the occasional moments of mellow, the drums are constantly marching & "Funebre" is my personal favorite...the band really reminds me of Soulfly meets Venom alot when I listen to this cd...what I really do miss though is band pictures..there are no band pics at all in the artwork for this cd & I always feel like when a band omit's their photo, the fans kinda lose something. The music is all very driven by the drumming in this band & I feel like the drums are definitely the glue that holds this band together more times than not. "Wendigo" is the song that might shock some listeners & that's all I will say if you've never heard this cd! 4 stars - Bob Suehs

Metalcore Fanzine
This was heavier than a ton of lead. This was part stoner rock, part Down and part Alice in Chains. I am not a huge of stoner rock or even doom to a point, but this just blew me away. This has some of the sickest vocals I have ever heard and the music is just so bone crushing heavy and catchy, I could not stand up and take notice. Within 2 minutes of this playing I was easily sucked in. The singer sounds like he is on his last dying breaths and he fits in with what the band is doing perfectly. His screams and growls out the tunes and one of the heaviest bands this side of the Atlantic belts out the tunes. This also didn't bore me as some bands do when they become too one diminutional. This band just have that wicked guitar sound and hook that sucked me in and left me to drown.

There’s a low-level buzz on this emerging trio from Bilbao, Spain, where los gentes seem to be tuning in on stoner rock a decade or two after the fact. Time disappears, though, when the stone rocks this rude. I wouldn’t exchange three Wolfmothers, two Zoroasters and The Sword for one Rhino.

So you say anybody can play riffs this dumb. Yeah, but few can play ‘em with the same blood, the same fire, the same evil. Few possess a drummer and a bassist like Julen Gil and Sergio Robles, who lag just enough to open up the hugeness as they thunder down way low with cymbals ever a-sizzlin’. And no insult to the genre, but a bongsucker outfit has never boasted a frontguy who f*ckin SANGS like guitarist Javier Galvez. Dude reveals his talent slowly, but by the time “Dead Throne Monarch” has abdicated, you realize he can not only barf and croak, he can virtually toast neo-Jamaican style, and unleash a tortured falsetto, and harmonize with his own doomy balladry, and even whup Layne Staley at the crushed-junkie moan game. Galvez doesn’t come off like a peacock, either, just a hellbent human with a bellyful of bile.

Take yer pick of antecendents -- Kyuss, Sleep, Black Label Society, etc. -- but the album title most strongly recalls Electric Wizard, and so do the dirty guitar tones and mucky riffs, which follow every song through several changes of mood and tempo. Savor the pug-ugly slow riff supported by tumbling toms on the title workout, or the twitching meaty one that follows the acoustic intro of “Promise of Storm” (which blew me away with guest Mikel Piris’ ox-horn sax solo). Or select from the assortment provided by the 15-minute “Funebre,” which could’ve been a third shorter but it’s still a great moment when, after eight minutes of dull-ax hacking, the butcher shakes off the gore, staggers to the door and stomps off with blade swinging, succumbing only at the end to a migraine minute of blinding feedback.

Some of this can get samey, but there’s plenty of variety when you consider the nearly all-acoustic “Wendigo” (Alice in Chains unplugged), the sludgy bolero “Pale Horses Coming,” and especially the harmony-enhanced metal tango “Bahamut,” whose Tangier-to-Shanghai world feel could go over strong with System of a Down eclectophiles.

The slab coulda stood more shred, the one rock facet where Galvez apparently does not cut. If Rhino would add a lead guitarist . . . of course Galvez must be tired of hearing that, just as Jack White is weary of dopes like me whining about no bassist in White Stripes. Shaddup, me. Okay.

The cover and the lyrics artfully conflate de rigueur Christ-bashing with a sophisticated absorption of horned pagan mythos. Wha? I mean, the whole package is righteously sick. Sick as a downtown hospital.

This Spanish act is a revelation of heavy.

What would you get if you mixed sludge metal, doom metal, thrash, death metal and grunge (yes, grunge) in a heavy iron cauldron? You would get an album called Dead Throne Monarch with a side of Rhino. Yes, I know that is an over-used opening style, but when you hear this music you will understand. It threatens to defy the very idea of being stuck…