Hey, so my nerves are all chewed up. It’s just been one of those weeks, right, where pretty much everything went wrong. That snowball started at the top of the hill and picked up steam and doesn’t seem to have any intentions of stopping. That’s causing a little more annoyance than usual.
Because of this, it turned out to be a good week to talk about “Passenger,” the new and third record from West Virginia-based noise trio Rhin. That’s not because the record adds to the annoyance. It doesn’t do that. Instead, it channels all of the things pissing me off, and when I hear these seven aggravated tracks that sound like they’re trying to gnaw on my flesh, it makes me realize my frustrations are normal. These guys, while totally having modern flourishes, sound like they could have done well in the ’90s, when Unsane, the Jesus Lizard, Helmet, and the Rollins Bands were doing some of their best stuff, as they would have fit right alongside them perfectly. The band—bassist/vocalist Dom, guitarist Tuck, and drummer Ben—also have a metallic edge to their noisy emanations, which is perfect for inviting folks from so many different terrains of heavy music to the proceedings. It’s also just an explosively fun record.
Opener “Uncle Tuck” rumbles apart, with noisy punishment wafting and harsh shouts bruising your rib cage. “There’s got to be something out there/There’s got to be something for me,” Dom laments, as the band leads you toward a crushing finish. “Unwell” is fiery and smashing at first, with yowled vocals and the band giving off heat. The track halts momentarily, but then guitars cut in and burst everywhere, while notes shoot out, and a grime-infested tidal wave of playing forces you over. The song gets loud, the vocals slip into a shriek, and a smothering groove sends the track home. “Drag My Feet” has a deliberate pace, hitting really hard, with a cool chorus that sticks with you. The guitars get spacious for a spot, while the band lands on stop-start mashing, and the madness and filth pile up and choke out the track. “Snivlem” is the longest cut at 7:03, and it plods along at first before the noise hits a boil and slowly spills out everywhere. Guitars heat up, getting meaner and heavier, while sounds threaten and the pace suddenly explodes forward. The riffs burn brighter than ever, as Dom howls, “I am free!”
“Clay” is the second longest track at 6:35, and it unleashes punches right away, with a smothering, chaotic assault bleeding out, and the band going on an extended, drubbing section where they stretch their muscles. Warbly clean singing arrives, with fiery riffs doing further damage and melody sliding behind the smokescreen. “Basement” blows apart, with a blinding array of chugging that catches fire and chokes you with smoke. Later the tempo shifts, with the band slowing down and grinding away, the track devolving into a noise pit, and the swirling churning bleeding out. Closer “Bad Timing” is an entirely different type of thing at first, giving off a stoner pop vibe and feeling like early Jane’s Addiction. Echoey swirls and wild blasts pummel, while filthy howls are unleashed amid sunburnt guitar work. The track is both abrasive and melodic, chugging and chewing flesh as the final moments blister and push out their final doses of torment.
Rhin’s aggressiveness and loose abrasiveness could leave brush burns on your face and chest while also doing a number to your eardrums. “Passenger” is a record that gets underneath your skin and, while poking at your sores, also helps you cope with the chaos flying around your head. This is a pummeling experience in front of you, and it’s best taken when your frustration is at its highest and you want to know that someone else out there understands.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/rhinwv
To buy the album, go here: http://grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com/merch
For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/GrimoireRecords