Friday 19 September 2014

'Summoning the Rhino' - The Sludgelord speaks with Javier Galvez of Horn of the Rhino

Once again, HORN OF THE RHINO have torn up the rule book of heavy metal with the release of their 5th record and third through Czech label Doomentia Records.  This trio from Spain are an infusion of many sub genres of metal and rock, the clean vocals of Soundgarden, the growls of the best death metal acts, mixed  with the fuzzed out guitar tones of distinguished acts like High on fire and you’re perhaps only just scratching the surface of this band’s unique sound.

The trio have entered their tenth year as a band and they are continuing to grow with each record they produce, their mixture of sludge, grunge, thrash and death metal, is every bit as dynamic as that unlikely fusion suggest and at the heart of it all is founder, writer, vocalist, guitarist Javier Galvez.   

With ‘Summoning Deliverance’, recently released, everything about this band is better on this record, more riffs, more dynamics and the biggest asset of all, an incredible vocal performance from their hugely talent front man.  Upon discovering this band, formerly know simply as ‘Rhino’, to me they are continuing to prove that you can be unflinching heavy, yet melodic at the same time. 

Front man Javier describes this album as “conceptual” and an ode to misanthropy.
general hatred, distrust or disdain of the human species or human nature.  So I was keen to get the lowdown about the record from the man himself.  This is the conversation we had, when we talked back in August and prior to the record coming out. 

(SL) Welcome back to the Sludgelord Javier, pleased to talk to you again.   It is just over two years since the last time we talked. First of all, I have seen the artwork for the new record, its incredible and holy fucking shit, the two new tracks you initially stream are brutal.  Some of the best you’ve recorded.

Javier Galvez) Hey there Aaron! A pleasure to talk with you again for sure. I follow SL through FB and it´s a good reference to get through new albums and bands. Glad you like both the artwork and the songs.

(SL) Let’s kick things off; can you perhaps summarize the last couple of years for HOTR, what have been some of the highlights for you guys?   Have you observed a steady increase in popularity over this period or from album to album? 

Javier Galvez) The last couple of years were really full of activity; we released Grengus, that was/is a very strong record, and yes, I think the name of the band got a little more heard in the underground metal community, thanks in part to the promotion from Doomentia this time. As always, we played wherever we can, putting a solid great show for the people paying the ticket, delivering everything we got on the stage.

We played some cool festivals here and there, shows… but the highlight was the German tour in November 2013. Kudos to the guys in Beehoover for getting four unknown people into their bus and playing all over Germany together. Was intense, hard to do at times but worth every minute of it for sure. The HOTR machinery was well oiled and we proved it every night, I can tell you.

SL) Tell us about your immediate plans for the rest of the year? When’s the record officially out, because there have been rumours of end of July, but that’s fast approaching.  Set the record straight

JG) Seems like Doomentia got a tight schedule this summer so we have to wait a bit. The record release show is planned for August 16th so the CD should be out between right now and that date. From that we got a few shows and festivals already booked and more waiting to confirm.

(SL) What springs to mind when you think about the completion of your new/current record? You’ve got 10 tracks on this one, as opposed to 8, was that due to having better material this time around and were they completely new for this record, as opposed to being leftovers from the last one? 

JG) This time it wasn´t easy. There was so much pressure going on in the studio for different reasons. The mixing sessions were longer than expected and all the recording took a toll on all of us, I think. But at the end the record came out great.
We´ve got 10 tracks this time, but you´ll see. No leftovers, never; maybe, sometimes I can rescue a forgotten riff in the recorder but that´s all. And no better or worse material, just different. And hard to play haha!!

(SL) You’ve chosen to work with Xanpe again on this record at Koba Studios, was it the case of it ain’t broke don’t fix it?  What does he bring to the table that gets the best out of you guys?

JG) Xanpe knows the band; he´s a friend, he does live sound for the band. When we´re recording or playing live with him, he´s like the fourth member. A hideous topic but it´s true.

(SL) In terms of the mix, there seems to be more layers to your sound this time around, more guitar overdubs for example but it has a live feel to it too, is that a fair assessment? 

JG) That was the plan. The songs were asking for it. More guitars, more noise, more chaos! The overall production was meant to differ from the previous record, as we always try to do, and we needed that live, human feel, yes.

(SL) How long was the gestation of your new/current opus from conception to delivery? Are you a band that takes completed song into the studio or do you write in the studio for instance?  I remember when we talked awhile back, (I think when I bought some vinyl from you), that some of these songs have been around for awhile?  Give us an insight into the record 

JG) We need to go back to the end of 2011, that is when we finished recording ‘Grengus’. As always I write at my own pace so once I ended with my recording duties I put myself to work. This time I wanted to make a different thing so I planned to do a concept album. Slowly I glued all the pieces together: lyrics, titles, riffs… Because of the story line, sometimes the lyrics would come first as opposed to the usual “music comes first”, at least in my case. It was great to do it this way because it  kept things really interesting. We started the official rehearsals by November and began recording by March, with all the material written, yes!!  although this time I sang on the spot on most of the tracks; got the lines, verses, choruses and all but when recording I wanted it to be as fresh as possible.

(SL)  The new tracks seem to encompass the sounds of your last three records, ‘Builder of Carrion ‘Effigies for example is more Grengus, than say ‘Weight…’ but then at the end of the track there’s a nod to moments of DTM.   Is this the definitive record for HOTR, because I know with Grengus you said you wanted to make a more aggressive record, as Weight was built upon more melody in terms of vocals? 

JG) No, I wouldn´t say that. It´s another record by the same band, by the same song writer in a different time frame. There are things that will remind you of DTM or WOC because of that. We have a certain way to do things and that´s great, because that means  we have our own style, or at least seems like we try it haha! It´s cool cause you´re comparing those songs with our own material and not another band/influence.

(SL) I feel stupid for asking, but what are your thoughts about the record now? You probably wrote, recorded it awhile back, is there anything you would change looking back?  Do you rest on your laurels until the release or do you continue to write music for the next record.  I know when we talked before you were already writing songs, which may or may not have ended up on this record. 

JG) I would put more layers of guitars and crazy sounds in some songs but overall its cool the way it is. I think people will go crazy, it´s a massive album, the fast stuff is faster and the slow is slower so everybody will be happy! I stopped writing for this record right before entering the studio. And yes, I´m already writing new stuff for the next one.
(SL) Moving onto the artwork there are no massive cocks, this time haha.  Seriously though it is incredible. Who designed it?  Tell us about the concept behind it and is it reflective of your lyrics?

JG) Garrés didn´t want to be involved with us this time so I checked a few names here and there and Nick Keller was elected. I told him all the concept behind the album, gave him unfinished lyrics and my idea for the main cover so together we developed it, but all the credit goes to him, of course. It was a pleasure to see the guy so into it, telling me his ideas… You´ll see.

(SL) As music fan yourselves and given that music seems to be so disposal at times, how important is it is to offer a great package to your fans? You were recently giving away free CDS when fans bought shirts for example, so it seems you’re keen to give your fans value for money. What can fans expect in terms the finished physical product for ‘Summoning Deliverance’? What format is/will be available? 

JG) Oh yes, I always measure what we do with what we would want to see as fans, of course. In this day and age, that everybody “likes” music but in reality don’t give a fuck, it´s very, very important to give a high quality final product, whether it is a CD or a big old LP. We are lucky on this matter because Doomentia is a label that cares about things like that and, of course, we take advantage of it mixing great artists with our music. This time fans will be salivating every time they will put their greasy hands on the 2xLP or the CD, that are the formats that will be available, along with the digital download.

(SL)  Will there be a bonus track on the vinyl this time around?  If so, any details you wanna share? 

JG) Not this time, but you´ll be surprised for sure.

(SL) I could be forgiven for thinking Howard Jones (ex KSE) sings during the clean parts at the end (who is also a brilliant vocalist), indeed a major selling point in terms of your music has always been the vocals. On this record you’re continuing to mix things up, dare I say, your voice seems to be evolving with each record, do you view your voice more as an instrument now, than say in the past? 

JG) I don´t know… I think I always approached my voice as an instrument. Depending on the song, it could be the icing on the cake or the main reason to be if you got a killer vocal melody.

(SL) What continues to be the ‘goal’ for HOTR as a band and thoughts on the emergence of the whole ‘underground’ scene and its increasing popularity?  Bigger labels seem to picking up bands from the underground scene, is that something that is attractive to you as a band?  Doing the band full time for example.  Some feel it could dilute the creative process in some way, taking the element of fun away from it

JG) I always said that the moment somebody tells me something about my songs in a “this works, that not, this sells, that not” kind of way, wouldn´t work, because music must flow free, no rush, no evil plans to conquer the world and get rich; yeah, I know some bands did something like that and worked for them haha! Personally my goal is achieved already, writing songs, putting them on wax and be able to play them live? That´s my thing! Obviously would be great to be up there with the big names of the genre, getting credit for what you do and be a well respected band, that would be huge for me.

(SL) How valuable are blogs and social media for bands such as yourselves? 

JG) Right now they are what keep the wheels in motion. I don´t like so much the social media thing but nowadays is a necessary evil, you must be there if you want to know about your favourite band. And blogs, of course, help a lot doing coverage of new and not so new bands and albums.

(SL)  Will you guys be hitting the road in support of this one?  Any concrete plans you can tell us.  Frustratingly it appears that you won’t make into the UK again this year, any plans head over next year.  You recently hooked up with a booking agent, is that correct? 

JG) Man, we´re trying to do a tour through UK so bad! Our booking agent is working on it right now so we hope to book some dates in the not so distant future. So far, the confirmed dates are in our country:

Aug16 Bilbao
Aug 23 Cangas
Sept 6 Madrid
Oct 11 Vitoria

(SL) What are your survival tips for the road?

JG) Stay healthy with decent food, if possible, lots of good sleep, no alcohol, no smoke and lots of water and hot tea if you´re the singer. Once the tour/show is over, you can get crazy as you want!

(SL) What do you guy use in terms of guitars, amps and why? Also what tuning do you use? 

JG) I have a bunch of Gibson that works perfectly through a modified 800 and a Matamp GT1, that are the amps I usually play both in the studio and on stage, but this time we recorded some tracks with a Mesa Boogie that sounded killer in the mix with the rest. I like dirty, high gain sounds but the sheer power of the Matamp is unbelievable. The tuning is AECGDA.

(SL) What have been some of your highlight in terms of records you’ve bought, shows you’ve attended etc this year?   

JG) Recently I go to see Incantation for the first time and was amazing. John McEntee is a true warrior. Being a legendary figure of the underground as he is, the guy keeps on doing his thing not matter what. Regarding records, I bought the new ones from Black Anvil, Lord Mantis, Tombs, Full Of Hell, Impetuous Ritual, Triptykon… Great albums all of them.

(SL) From a personal perspective thanks for talking, as you know I’m a massive supporter and fan of you music.   Do you have any final comments/word of wisdom you’d like to bestow upon us? Things to look out for in the future? 

JG) I know you´re sold to our cause Aaron haha! Thanks to you and the SL blog for the coverage and the endless support. We´ll see what the future will bring. Right now I want every HOTR fan to enjoy the new album. Like I said, it´s a massive one, so much crazy things going on there, a killer and honest record from an honest band. We´ll be putting up on our site new live dates when confirmed so stay tuned and maybe we´ll be playing near you, who knows?

Thanks again and keep it brutal!

Intro and inteview by: Aaron Pickford