Crash of Rhinos
Knots


4.0
excellent

Review

by Lucid CONTRIBUTOR (17 Reviews)
July 29th, 2013 | 95 replies | 9,824 views


Release Date: 07/22/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Racket and daydreams, this time.

Crash of Rhinos' arrival on the UK emo scene was a much-needed jolt, a remarkably fresh-sounding debut that thrilled from the initial listen. Distal was a house party, an open invite to raise a racket, to spill drinks, to laugh with joyous abandon. These lads yelled their worries away with an arm slung around your shoulder, coaxing you to let loose with the same. Despite being an emo band, they flaunted the same uproar and camaraderie as Japandroids and Titus Andronicus, raising fists with anthemic fervor. Yet their rallying cries disregarded any definite message, instead favoring pure release in endearingly naive slogans - "I have a future in failing!" being the most memorable. For those that met the cue to scream along, this record became much-loved and incessantly welcoming.

In presenting Knots, I'm tempted to say "this is growing up" or another cliché, because this is a far more contemplative record. Crash of Rhinos now ruminate over their troubles instead of casting them away in cathartic jams. This new demeanor is thoughtfully eased into: "Luck Has a Name" initiates the album in typical fashion, a frenzied kick-start of dizzying chords and tumbling percussion, yet the bridge subdues activity to near-stillness. Where the band once descended into melodic passages for breathing space, they now hold their exhales, lingering in reflection until the clamor is but a hazy memory. It's a risky change for a band whose debut succeeded by its commotion, and marks Knots with the burden of compensation. Fittingly then, they've stepped up both instrumentation and lyricism. The album title is as good an indicator as any: intricate knots interlace throughout, guitar interplay that dizzies the mind and lulls into daydreams; the words outline desires and complications, knots we tie and break in human relationships. Appreciation of these aspects is key to enjoyment of this record, as is breaking the mindset that Distal impressed. That’s the best lead I can offer for those that are currently on the fence regarding Knots.

Those that lie on the favorable side will surely echo that the guitar weaving is remarkable. The math influence is clear, yet its presence is surprisingly friendly: gentle braids form in the descent from commotion, leading to melodic intertwining that casts the listener into reverie. "Standards & Practice" highlights this in its seven-minute slow burn: the initial passage is off-kilter, looping through a tricky time signature, but it eventually subdues to calm resolve. The daydream lingers as distortion builds from the back of the mix, yet there's no climactic moment – a lone guitar shifts through a closing progression at the track's end. This holding back defines the mood of Knots, particularly in its second half. The mid-tempo rockers at the forefront of the record are forceful, however. "Opener" is led by a gruff, drunken ramble that is quite awful but weirdly engrossing, the equivalent of watching an intoxicated friend make a passionate fool of himself. You'll stand awkwardly at the side to start, but by the time the chorus arrives you're a believer, eventually raising your glass to the pub-gathering finale of "we're in this together! we're in this together!"

But the highlight of the first half of the record, and possibly Knots as a whole, is "Interiors." A jarring vocal break sets off whirling, uplifted guitars as striking drum fills steer the track in motion. It's the vocal approach that leaves the greatest impression though: Crash of Rhinos present themselves as a collective voice in the most literal sense, every band member granted the freedom to shout along. Their Bandcamp profile even lists "five voices" as a component of their sound, right next to their instrumental set. "Interiors" finds delight in dual harmonies, interjections, gang releases – the joy of participation. They crowd the room to tell tales of domestic frustration, striking stances with "you're looking as tired as the paper on these walls!" and "take the covers off of me!" Every playthrough finds the ear drawn to a different hook, lending the track an addictive quality. And it satisfies enough that the shift into the musing back end of the record is received with few reservations.

Knots establishes Crash of Rhinos as a singular act after a debut that could be tallied with its influences. It might not be as fun as Distal, but what is lost is made up for in accomplished songwriting, captivating rumination, and the most affectionate math play I've witnessed in a while. The reward is gradual, but to stick with this record is to see the doubts gratifyingly unravel.



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user ratings (87)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
July 28th 2013



7023 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Record can be streamed here: http://crashofrhinos.bandcamp.com/album/knots

Digging: FKA twigs - LP1

SeaAnemone
July 28th 2013



20012 Comments


Way to go Ali, I was excited to hear this and you just made me more excited -- I really like the review, you do a nice job at describing the specifics of the record in an abstract way (if that makes any sense at all).

Digging: Natural Snow Buildings - The Night Country

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
July 28th 2013



50093 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

will check

Digging: Tiny Moving Parts - Pleasant Living

pmmets07
July 28th 2013



5865 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this album is sooooo good. aoty contender. i'm surprised it hasn't gotten more buzz on here
considering how much this site loved distal.

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
July 28th 2013



7023 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I think many don't know it's out, hopefully this changes that!

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
July 28th 2013



23806 Comments


suuuuuper good review, spot on in the first paragraph

this is rotting in my library, I need to finally get around to it

Gyromania
July 28th 2013



15493 Comments


incessantly welcoming is a weird thing to say. i think incessant and sentences like: 'his incessant bickering' or 'incessant rehearsal prepared him to play the concert' come to mind

that's being nitpicky, but i'm sure you could be a little more straight-forward with wording sometimes. great review though, good to see you writing more frequently

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
July 28th 2013



50093 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

please get promoted

titlefightmeirl
July 28th 2013



659 Comments


doesn't this come out august 20th? I know it's streaming already.

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
July 28th 2013



7023 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

it's been digitally released for purchase

titlefightmeirl
July 28th 2013



659 Comments


ah, okay then the vinyl release doesn't come out til august 20th, I just pre ordered the topshelf variant.

elbaliem
July 29th 2013



894 Comments


this album is sooo good.

sixdegrees
July 29th 2013



16917 Comments


will check
[2]

Digging: Ted Nugent - Shutup&jam!

titlefightmeirl
July 29th 2013



659 Comments


Lean Out rules so hard

Adabelle
July 29th 2013



4254 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Pleased to see you aren't as disappointed with the album as you were when the first single came out!

Adabelle
July 29th 2013



4254 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Oh and review rules.

I'm still not as acquainted with this as I'd like to be

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
July 29th 2013



6006 Comments


Good review, pos.

I will check this later today, since the band has a bandcamp location.

Digging: Troldhaugen - Obzkure Anekdotez For Maniakal Massez

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
July 29th 2013



10064 Comments


Go Ali, go, go Ali

Digging: The Contortionist - Language

kingsoby1
Emeritus
July 29th 2013



4950 Comments


cool man


Romulus
July 29th 2013



8423 Comments


yaaay glad to hear this is good. will listen



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