I remember first encountering the band through their debut ‘Distal’ on tape. I thought to myself, “Tape? A band in this circle, and this day and age releasing something on tape?!”. At first I was skeptical, but it was little quirks like this, and the unorthodox nature of the band that truly made me fall in love with them. Having a track called “Opener” as the second track on an album, and having two bassists, giving away their debut for free, everyone singing; this was clearly a band who wanted to do, and did things their way.
Never before has a band name been more fitting as sonic representative for a band.
A Crash of Rhinos certainly made lasting impressions on audiences like footprints after a stampede: and the feeling was synonymous. Already a well seasoned machine built from the members of The Jesus Years and Little Explorer it was clear from the get-go the band would deliver music we would cherish and hold dear.
It’s not often you see a band all sharing microphone duties on stage. Crash brought a sense of camaraderie, as if being a part of this experience was being involved in a pretty tenacious gang. You could trade of vocal parts with your buddies, sing along to whatever part you wanted and not care about the fact you were shouting (and being shouted at by) a group of sweaty men on stage. Whether it was the huge gang cries of songs from Distal, or the vocal swapping parade that came with Knots, there were hooks everywhere for anyone to cotton on to.
And it was this command of unison that managed to attract the attention of big label names such as BSM and Topshelf records to work alongside them. Seeing the band go from strength to strength not only in sonics and song-writing, but working their way up in the world, was like watching the successes of a close friend and feeling pride knowing you somehow helped be a part of this all.
It’s difficult to categorize. The comparisons to emo and math rock are apparent, but there is something golden and glistening in these five guys that permeates the thickest smog of overcrowded scenes. Maybe it’s because most songs creep towards the six minute mark and still maintain interest. Maybe it’s the organic hype generated through word of mouth by fans. Or maybe it’s the notion of feeling completely trampled by what happened on stage in front of you; ears ringing and smiles beaming.
But not only was the band hard hitting on a sonic level, they powerfully resonated on an emotional level too. Throwing your fist in the air and yelling “Where was our luck when we needed it?” never felt more cathartic when everyone in the room was sympathetic with each other.
Crash delivered wonderfully heavy songs; without the laden distortion, without any gimmicks, and without any pretension. Seeing them perform live was a genuine pleasure, as genuine as the music they made. After six years of stampeding along, taking a break, starting again, releasing two fantastic albums, and leaving a very memorable legacy of destruction in their wake, the five of them have stopped charging and have begun to walk their separate ways. It’s rare we see a band so unique and boundary pushing grace our stages and ears so frequently as they have. And like the rhino, bands like these are a dying breed. A genuine guitar band doing real things, regardless of trend and just making some beautifully heartfelt music together. And I’m sure I’m not the first in saying this is one of the reasons I will miss this band the most.
Words by Marcus Gooda | Staff Writer | TYC
A Crash of Rhinos | Retrospective