It’s pretty remarkable that Rishloo are not touring the globe, with a steady legion of cult fans. It’s not because the band is particularly radio friendly, and the music they make is not what’s “in” at the moment, but the Seattle, WA band has delivered exceptionally creative artistic progressive rock records for the better part of the past decade, garnering constant comparisons to luminaries Tool and Dredg. Rishloo make music on their own terms, remaining completely unsigned and totally independent. The quartet spent much of 2009 working on their third self-released full length album, Feathergun, a record that continues the forward moving evolution of the band. Rishloo are doing all they can as a band, releasing artistic visionary music one exceptional album at a time, but the time for them to venture out past the Pacific Northwest is long overdue. With the positive progression displayed on Feathergun, hopefully that time has arrived.
The ominous mood of Rishloo’s first two albums is quickly re-established on the opening “Scissorlips”. Their strengths haven’t changed in the years since Eidolon, as they have worked to sharpen the aspects that make them unique. Lead singer Andrew Mailloux delivers the spiritual aura the songs flourish on, belting out powerful, commanding, and darkly operatic vocals. The constant fight since their debut album to escape comparisons to Maynard James Keenan may be quickly approaching, as Mailloux continues to find his own place. While the band’s vocals stand clear and present in the center of the mix, the experimental guitar work of David Gillett is the perfect accompaniment for the wandering melodies and winding structures. Mailloux sings the hook of “all we are is all we are… transcendental animals,” as Gillett slides up and down, screeching through a multitude of effects pedals and thick layering. “Turning Sheep Into Goats” offers a bit of a departure for the band, springing from the vocal department and the decidedly heavier delivery complete with full gut wrenching screams harmonized by guest vocalist John Beckman. The double tracked vocals work together with the gorgeous delay soaked guitars for a lush and bright resonance. “Systematomatic,” bursts with tight rhythmic grooves from Sean Rydquist and Jesse Smith just below the surface of the ever present vocal and guitar domination. The frantic vocal delivery bounces between angry rasps and apocalyptic wails of emotion. While more attention needs to be given to the rhythm section in the mix, Rishloo seem comfortable with their lopsided balance.
“River of Glass” opens with a sleepy creaking guitar propelled forward by the deep pummeling of the drums. Mailloux’s vocals soar between a low croon, scratchy howls, and an impressive falsetto sharing space with hypnotic riffs chugging around the shifting melodic structures. While the mastery of his voice is ever apparent, the mixing of the band as a whole could benefit from peeling the vocals back in line with the rest of the group. “Keyhole in the Sky,” is a prime example of this, as the vocals sit so far in front of the band, attention is distracted from the gorgeous reverb saturated guitars. The song eventually breaks into a 1950’s noire type trance as the bass line flattens and rumbles through the haze for an outro that serves more as an interlude leading into the epic beauty of “Downhill”. Stunning orchestration fills the somber ambiance, including triumphant sounding pianos, and rarely seen wide open spaces for Gillett’s guitars to roam and expand. Building with intensity every inch of the way, the track showcases Rishloo’s best traits at their finest moments. Mailloux’s vocals seep into the music without overpowering the band, leaving room for complex rhythmic shifts and dazzling guitar solos ripe with multiple blistering effects. “Feathergun in the Garden of the Sun,” continues to allow the band generous time to expand and evolve in a less claustrophobic atmosphere than the beginning of the record. Smith stampedes through the spacious bridge with a double bass drum assault that leads into a truly mesmerizing psychedelic metal landscape.
“Diamond Eyes” shimmers with an optimistic tone as Mailloux sings the lifting chorus, “when diamond eyes light up the sky, I promise we can change the world”. Beautiful delayed guitars swirl throughout the track as Smith’s crisp cymbal work carries the invigorating rhythm section. Rishloo can use more songs that prominently feature their understated rhythm section, and this track proves they have what it takes. “Katsushika” is centered on the vocals, with the music serving nearly as a backdrop for the thought provoking lyricism. Album closer “Weevil Bride” has an awful lot going on in it, but works hard to never lose your attention amidst the chaos. The song’s movements are rapid and hectic, deserving of the time it takes to fully appreciate, and ultimately very rewarding after a decent amount of familiarity. Gillett offers one final blast of highly explosive riff filled carnage until the song eventually fades out into an elongated and serene outro.
Rishloo certainly have the musical chops to take them far into the hearts of many art/prog rock fans, and they have amassed themselves a decent following entirely from their own hard work. If the band desires to continue progressing into the well deserved next level, they are going to need the help of an independent label that can offer the band a means to tour nationwide and internationally. Delivering three exceedingly good albums since their inception, the future is wide open for Rishloo and opportunities should be set for the taking.