Review Summary: Rishloo’s third album Feathergun is a good, if not perfect, conclusion to what has been an outstanding year for music.
After releasing their second full length Eidolon
Rishloo became somewhat of an enigma. Playing multi-layered, melancholic progressive rock, it is difficult to see Rishloo become a mainstay in any mainstream commercial outlet and yet the inherent quality woven through the unsigned Seattle quartet is undeniable and points to an assured future prosperity. On their debut Terras Fames
Rishloo unashamedly wore their influences on their sleeves and while the album itself was a success, Eidolon
took the band one step further and away from directly copying their influences. While still heavily reliant on the styling’s of musicians such as Maynard James Keenan among others, Rishloo were less heavy handed in their approach and produced a much improved record. The band toured relentlessly, supporting acts such as Fair To Midland as well as self-promoting their own headlining shows to bring Eidolon
to a larger audience, and in late 2008 the band re-entered the studio with plans to write and record a third studio album. After developing at such a steep incline, there was always going to be huge expectation within the bands fan base and while Feathergun
doesn’t explicitly improve on Eidolon
it sees Rishloo change their formula and create a sound of their own.
Immediate impressions of Feathergun
are that it is an entirely different entity to 2007’s Eidolon
. The dark, moody atmospheres that the band preferred two years ago have been carefully deconstructed and crafted into something completely different. Aside from the rigorously structured songs and unique vocals of Andrew Mailloux the overall sound of Feathergun
couldn’t be further from the last time Rishloo graced our ears, and it is immediately apparent that the main focus of the bands progression has been to place yet more emphasis on the strong vocals and guitars that dominated for long periods throughout Eidolon
. With this said, Scissorlips
opens the album in much the same way that Shades
. The track is intrinsically memorable due predominantly to the trademark powerful vocals of Andrew Mailloux, that literally take full control of the song. Obviously intended to be a transitional song, Scissorlips
is abundantly obvious in its similarity to much of Eidolon
and this familiarity is also comforting.
The next few tracks follow Scissorlips’
lead, and it is not until we get to fourth track River Of Glass
brings us away from the violent, sometimes spasmodic feel of Eidolon
. The peaceful serenity that is revealed suits the band and it is from this that they produce some of their best material. The dreamlike River Of Glass
shows early promise after the less-than-impressive tracks preceding it. Again the vocals take centre-stage with Mailloux’s various pitch changes only adding to the surreal ambience that surrounds them. Following River Of Glass
we get another disappointingly mediocre track in the form of Keyhole In The Sky
before the albums centrepiece, the shamelessly extravagant and phenomenally gorgeous duo of Downhill
and Feathergun In The Garden Of The Sun
. For the first time in Feathergun
the emphasis shifts from Mailloux’s vocals to the soaring intricacies of David Gillet’s guitar. On top of this, these two tracks also see the band stretch themselves as artists, with Downhill
displaying various guitar techniques and instrumental interludes including breathtaking solo’s on both the piano and the guitar. Feathergun...
continues this musical growth and displays perhaps the bands most mature instrumentation yet. Unpredictably all four members of the band gel in harmony and unlike the majority no attribute of the bands make-up dominates any other.
Of course, Feathergun
is far from a perfect record, and amongst some of the bands best songs are some devastatingly mediocre cuts. On top of this the guitar-vocal prominence throughout the record becomes laborious throughout some of the inferior tracks. While similar to both the band’s previous efforts in terms of importance, Andrew Mailloux’s vocals have improved no further since Eidolon
and although he is undoubtedly a great vocalist he still lacks the conviction to drag the album to its climax. Similarly Gillet’s guitar proficiency is an exceedingly useful weapon in the bands armoury, but the two together overwhelm the timid rhythm section, and it would be nice to see more input from the other two band members. While primarily it is difficult to make out these deficits, over time the deficiencies of Feathergun
become more prominent. Subtle nuances turn into occasional blips while feelings of overawe turn decidedly less impressive. Particularly on the first half of the record, the fluid continuity of individual tracks becomes less apparent, and the rougher transitions disengage the listener. Turning Sheep To Goats
is perhaps the best example of a track succumbing to mediocrity; the highly-charged, aggressive musicianship seems a fresh take on the band’s sound until it becomes evident that like Scissorlips
before it, the track seems to needlessly cling to the last remaining remnants of Eidolon
In spite of this, Feathergun
is an excellent release from the Seattle boys. Amidst feelings of disappointment, and the soft shattering of sky high expectations, it is all too easy to forget that Rishloo are an independent self-promoted band with virtually no mainstream appeal. The musical themes that the band have explored throughout Feathergun
show that they are far from exhausted in the ideas department and while some of the tracks cling to the past a little too much, the majority of the album points towards a glowing future for the band. With Feathergun
Rishloo have finally found their niche in an ever expanding genre and have created some of the best tracks of 2009. From the ambient solitude of River Of Glass
to the aching beauty of Katsishuka
each track offers something unique to the album and with crystal clear production completing the puzzle it would not be surprising to see this creep onto many an end-of-year list.
River Of Glass
Feathergun In The Garden Of The Sun
Overall 4.0 Excellent