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Steel Rhino - Steel Rhino

Steel Rhino
Steel Rhino
by Chris Hicklin at 15 September 2021, 1:35 PM

Hailing from Sweden, STEEL RHINO are the brainchild of veteran Scandinavian rocker Mikael Rosengren (DIRTY PASSION, REVOLVERLUTION, BAI BANG) who has enlisted the vocal powers of Herbie Langhans (FIREWIND, AVANTASIA, SINBREED) with this project, intended to cross over the genres of traditional Heavy Rock, with a more Metal sensibility as well. Guitar duties are ably fulfilled by Filip Vilhelmsson, one feels (as with the vocals) perhaps under the supervision of Rosengren, who seems to be the creative lead and the driving force of the project.

First track, the appropriately named "Rhino Attack" sets the tone for the album. This isn’t pure metal, it’s the heavier end of 80s hard rock, and dare I say hair metal, combined with the rolling chugging metal sound we all know and love from bands like SAXON, with a bit of MANOWAR silliness thrown in. Very enjoyable stuff, perhaps a little too much effects on the guitars. It’s a good introduction to Langhans’ voice, which is very strong, and has a deep natural tone to it with an impressive range.

Of note is track three, "Lovin Easy". This is classic '80s cheesy Rock, which is by no means an insult. Short, sweet and lacking any kind of subtlety whatsoever, this is a sure fire crowd pleaser with its big riffs and sweaty swagger.

This brings us to the track “Steel Rhino,” from the album "Steel Rhino," by the band STEEL RHINO. It’s at this point you get the feeling these fellows really are fully committed to the idea of metal Rhinoceroses. Letting out a classic metal scream to kick proceedings off, this is Langhans really proving the strength of his vocal performance. There can be something awkward about bands that reference themselves in their own lyrics, it can seem self-aggrandising, but this album is really trying to deliberately bring that feel, so it just works.

Fire and Ice” introduces something we have not felt so much of yet, groove. Whilst the chorus feels like more traditional British Metal, the verse riff brings to mind a post-PANTERA Dime riff like something from DAMAGEPLAN, this song really is a foot tapper, one of the album’s strongest offerings. The groove can be felt in subsequent tracks, most notably “Sands of Time,” but no more so than here.

Ghost from the Past” is a real sing-along track. This has a very memorable vocal where Langhans is losing any gravel and singing very powerfully. It seems to be lyrically more rooted in real world than the fantasy worlds the album sets much of itself. This one is one that sticks with you, I found myself humming it while making my dinner.
One of the most serious tracks on the album is the penultimate offering “Boom Boom”. This has very socially conscious lyrics, referencing the problems the world is facing with poverty and firearms violence. It’s the lead single from the album and a great choice for this purpose, having one of the most accessible subjects, a visceral anger at the injustice of it all, and a galloping infectious rhythm.

Closing out the album is “New Tomorrow” a much more upbeat feeling song, speaking of sacrifice and moving forward together to create a brighter future. It’s a bright burst of energy and positivity, with a superb soaring vocal and tight riffing.

On balance, this is a strong effort and should stand the band in good stead to become a popular festival act, with their fist pumping drums, headbanging riffs and ascendant melodies you can imagine a crowd really getting into. The songs are all quite short and packed with ideas, there’s a broad enough range of genres at play to appeal to a wide audience whilst satisfying the easily bored, but they retain their personality as a band through it all.  The production is punchy and the album sounds great on headphones, they have put a lot of work into crafting these 11 tracks, and really there isn’t a dud amongst them. A very assured debut indeed.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Rhino Attack
2. Arrival
3. Lovin Easy
4. Steel Rhino
5. Bells of Midnight
6. Fire and Ice
7. Ghost from the Past
8. Sands of Time
9. Life We Choose
10. Boom Boom
11. New Tomorrow 
Lineup:
Herbie Langhans - Vocals
Mikael Rosengren  - Drums
Filip Vilhelmsson - Guitar, Bass
Record Label: GMR Music
     


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