Having just spent a good few months listening to and writing about nothing else but emo, it was my plan to listen to and write about something completely different. Nearing the completion of the Top 100 Emo Songs, I had bought the new Cancer Bats album in readiness to use as a sort of punk metal palate cleanser, something to refresh the senses. That was the plan until I received an e-mail from Big Scary Monsters containing a few recommendations of bands I may enjoy which triggered a memory of something I’d been meaning to check out for a while.
Whilst I’d been being extremely nostalgic and re-listening to music for the purpose of compiling the Emo 100, sitting patiently on my iPod were a few things I had downloaded and put on the back burner for the time being. One of these such bands were Crash Of Rhinos. I knew I was behind the times myself already as the ‘Distal’ album had been available since last April and that e-mail I received served as the kick up the arse I needed to start listening to new things again. It wasn’t my initial intention to review it just because it had been out for so long already but having been blown away by it on the first listen, I couldn’t not write something about it. Plus, Big scary Monsters have recently released it on cassette so I guess I can justify a, rather late, review.
The first thing need to say is that ‘Distal’ is brilliant! Just in case you weren’t sure which way I was going with this. The second thing is that they’re British, which is also brilliant as it means there is a good chance I’ll get to see them play some time soon. Crash Of Rhinos come from Derby, they used to play in The Jesus Years and The Little Explorer and have 2 guitarists, 2 bassists, an amazing drummer and a fuck load of vocals. They play intricate, beautiful and epic emo which stirs up memories of a plethora of incredible bands like caP’n Jazz, Mineral and Cursive. Whilst all the while sounding completely like their own band.
Crash Of Rhinos aren’t afraid to let their songs breathe, most of the 7 songs featured on the album stretch longer than the 6 minute mark but at no time do they out stay their welcome. It shows a lot of confidence in their ability to write really captivating music that they can trust their songs to extend to these lengths without feeling the need to rehash parts or cut anything short. ‘Distal’ starts with the uplifting ‘Big Sea’ and from the very start you’re drawn in, by the time the vocals start you want to be joining in and singing along at full voice. It moves from a big rock beginnings to twinkly intricate breakdowns and back again seamlessly. The next track, ‘Stiltwalker’, starts with another great riff and is played at a frenetic pace and although it does go on to break things down quietly you never think they’re repeating themselves. The song builds moodily in to a brilliant climax, the riff at the end is where they remind me of Cursive, a sound so good it makes me wish I was still in a band.
From there track 3, ‘Wide Awake’, is lighter, the verse is gorgeous and paves the way for the Mineral-esque track 4, ‘Lifewood’. The album never dips at any point, ‘Gold on Red’ and ‘Closure’ both bring different things to the record whilst maintaining the quality. ‘Distal’ finishes with 7 and half minutes of absolute brilliance, ‘Asleep’ shows the band combining at their best, the tight rhythm section thunders the song along. There are shades of ‘End of the ring wars’ era Appleseed Cast here, its a perfect end to an amazing album.
If Spy Versus Spy were the best British emo band of the old wave then Crash Of Rhinos certainly hold that title for this emo revival. Makes me kick myself that their not included in the Top 100 emo songs list because if I had heard them this time last year I can’t see that I would have left them out. If I do make that list an annual thing, which is under consideration, then I’m sure Crash Of Rhinos would secure themselve a new entry. Especially as I’ve just read that their working on a new album that should be released before the year is out. I can’t seriously recommend this highly enough and fingers crossed they’ll be playing somewhere in the south east soon so I can write more nice tthings about them.
Cheers for reading xxx