I’m glad to see someone making better use of a Simpsons reference in their band name than Fall Out Boy, who I personally blame for the last two or three crappy seasons of the show. These Vancouver beast metal bastards come right out of the gate with a Billy Anderson-mixed (translation: “hello guitars”) collection of Melvins-style bombast with vocals pushed out by the same stomach muscles as Scott Kelly‘s and feedback so liberally strewn about the place you’d think it was part of a universal healthcare package.
Anyone who caught wind of Bison B.C.‘s quietly-released record on Metal Blade toward the back end of last year will be pleased to have White Rhino as a companion; the two bands easily fit into the mold of post-Mastodon ’00s stoner metal, even if Mendozza strikes with more aggression and a generally more grizzly approach. There isn’t much musically on the record that’s going to catch a Sleep fan off guard, but if derivative, Mendozza is no less enjoyable with that acknowledged.
The acoustic interlude — aptly titled “Interlude” — that strikes at track six, following “The Rise of the Piscean,” should be a whole song, even if run under and over with a wave of feedback and heavy drums and bass. Actually, especially if run under and over with a wave of feedback and heavy drums and bass. That would rule. Bleeding into “Pink Slips,” one of the fastest and most purposefully Southern songs on White Rhino, it seems obviously included solely to break things up. Then again, that the track is titled “Interlude” might have something to do with that. For a band who has already been creating mythologies like “Otzi the Wanderer” for five tracks — hell, even the intro is called “Illuminairus” — one would have thought they’d come up with something better for a name.
The sludge comes out to play on “Halo of Crows,” a resin-coated grooving main riff serving to make the song an album highlight as it creeps under the throaty vocals and tense drum work. One also has to applaud the honesty in Mendozza‘s take on Houdini opener “Hooch” by Melvins, which can be found as a second hidden track behind some smokey/creepy acoustics after closer “The Hounding” on White Rhino. They don’t reinvent the song, don’t screw with the arrangement much, just pay sincere homage to a band they’ve already shown with the 10 tracks before that they’re seriously into. It works and ultimately makes the album even more endearing.
The guys and gal making up the trio Mendozza wear their love for The Heavy on their sleeve, and for that alone, they’re at least worth a visit on MySpace to see what they’re all about before you buy the record. White Rhino, unless it’s the first stoner album you’ve ever heard, isn’t about to change your life, but its thunder hits in all the right places and is more than welcome on my shelf.
Tags: Canadian Metal, Mendozza, Vancouver