Having already been gobbled up in as a limited vinyl release through Hornacious Wax Records in 2014, Albino Rhino from US heavy rockers BoneHawk gets its official CD release via Ripple Music, who the band recently signed with, this month. Already preceded by single/video Los Vientos, as part of the label’s Second Coming Of Heavy series but not actually on the album, the band’s returning debut album is an invitation and wake call to those yet to discover the melodic and groove woven rock ‘n’ roll of the Michigan quartet.
With its seeds already sown when guitarist/vocalist Matt Helt and guitarist Chad Houts first met and bonded in third grade at school in Kalamazoo, BoneHawk emerged in 2011 after the pair played together in various projects over the years. With bassist Chris Voss alongside Houts and Helt who also provided drums, the trio set about recording Albino Rhino with Jim Diamond at Ghetto Recorders in Detroit. In less than two months the first run of vinyl was sold out whilst, with drummer Jay Rylander and bassist Taylor Wallace by now alongside the founding duo, BoneHawk was being devoured on their local live scene. A second ‘Ultraviolet Purple’ pressing of the album followed and either sparked the attention or came about through the attention of Ripple Music boss Todd Severin. Whichever the line of events, it has led to the CD availability of Albino Rhino, a release which maybe did not blow us away but certainly has sparked persistence in returning for more helpings of the band’s riff loaded and groove strapped persuasion.
Inspirations for the band seem to stem from the likes of Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath; the latter certainly and quickly an open influence and hue to Albino Rhino. It opens with Argenia and straight away grooves are enjoyably entangling ears as the bass almost dances on the ear with its throaty tempting. Beats have a hefty swipe to their touch too whilst riffs and the harmonic tone of the vocals, singular and as a pair, bring further magnetism to a quickly and highly infectious song. The blend of dark and melodic, heavy and light grabs the imagination with ease, contrasting as potently with the more intensive touch of the rhythms as the song continues to captivate and impress.
The following Sexy Beast is just as swift a persuasion; its sizzling air immediately coating the senses with an appetising coaxing, almost echoing the fiery textures which coloured its predecessor before casting its own spicy flames in a prowling gait. There is a great delta blues like tone to the track and especially its rich melodies and emotive tone, but as shown in the first track and becomes repeated throughout Albino Rhino, things never seem to hang around in one shade of sound or imagination for long. Hot Mary is the same; the song evolving an initial heavy stroll with a juicy blues scent to its grooves through catchy swings of beats and riffs matched in infectiousness by the ever engaging vocals of Helt.
Weaving a seventies heavy rock vibe, Tonight We Ride steps up next, keeping the listener’s physical and vocal involvement as busy as ever whilst Warchild is like a net of appetite trapping grooves and stoner-esque temptation. Sometimes it takes a band like BoneHawk to make ears remember how close many genres are to each other, how they are a one-step evolution from another and the relative pointlessness of tags in so many ways. The song is a festival of flavour even in its generally reserved and slim body; a paint box of rock ‘n’ roll colours especially vibrant in its furnace of a chorus and additional crescendos.
Ulysses puts in its claim for best track honours next, the song a feisty and ears blistering stomp of individual craft and anthemic tempting quickly followed by the dirtier, almost sludgy theatre of Desert Run. Its rugged landscape is sultry and almost imposing but with its cow bell and searing tendrils of melodic acidity alone, its creative body is just as welcoming as anything on offer by the album.
There is a whiff of Pentagram to Nomad which next takes over and envelops ears in a tangy melodic smoulder with again grooves which seem to writhe and entangle with snake like dexterity as rhythms cage and provoke even stronger physical engagement. There is an instinctive bond between song and listener which is never absent from any track within the album and certainly not the closing pair of the virulently swinging Going Over The High Side and the closing title track of Albino Rhino. For almost eight minutes, the final encounter fascinates and enthrals with its individual drama of sound and accomplished craft sculpted with stirring imagination. In many ways it is the most unique song on the album and a potent end to the spirit rousing encounter.
We look eagerly forward to what comes next from BoneHawk; going by Albino Rhino it is likely to be weighty and seriously alluring. Add a little more originality and the band could kick up a real storm of attention around themselves to build on what will assumedly arise from this highly enjoyable re-release.
Albino Rhino is released on CD on April 22nd via Ripple Music across most stores and downloadable now @ https://bonehawk.bandcamp.com/album/albino-rhino-2
Pete RingMaster 22/04/2016
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