Sound: Seattle-based progressive art rock band Rishloo have finally hit their stride in their latest release, Feathergun. An unsigned foursome, Rishloo has continuously crafted and re-crafted their sound, shaping an ever-evolving, multi-layered mix of powerful vocals driving, ethereal guitars and pounding drums. Feathergun, the band's third release, captures the band at their best so far, more comfortable with their own identity than they were on the past two albums. Though less dark and moody than past releases, Feathergun still immediately draws comparisons to other prog-rockers like Dredg or Tool. While the band is actively fighting to strike down these direct parallels and instead present themselves as new and unique, at times it is nearly impossible not to simply consider them as Tool lite or diet Dredg.
Musically, Feathergun provides something for most kinds of listeners. While there isn't much in the way of spectacular, genre-pushing musicianship, the album still makes for an enjoyable listen. Guitarist David Gillet provides most of the much-needed variety, his effects-drenched guitar work constantly changing styles and sounds. Despite Gillet defining most of the album's high-points, however, Rishloo's sound is dominated by Andrew Mailloux's vocals. Each track has seemingly been mixed down specifically to enhance the effect of the driving, powerful singing, which unfortunately drowns out everything else at times. // 6
Lyrics: As stated before, Mailloux's voice is the driving force behind Rishloo's sound, ranging from an aggressive roar to a surprisingly strong falsetto, an array that is put on full display on songs such as Scissorlips, or River of Glass. While the tone of his voice isn't necessarily unique, it is the pure power that catches the listener's ears Mailloux put every ounce of energy and emotion he can muster into every line he sings. The band members themselves clearly recognize this strength as well, opting to always put the vocals at the forefront of their music, even when they don't quite fit.
This emphasis on vocals, while at times a strength, becomes a bit wearing to the listener. While the singing may vary within the individual songs, the album as a whole blends together and begins to drone on and on.
Lyrically, Rishloo opts for very introspective writing, aiming to inspire listeners instead of just telling a story. While the depth of their writing is refreshing, at times it seems a bit over-the-top. After several songs, it begins to feel like Rishloo is trying too hard to appear pensive and wise. // 6
Overall Impression: At its core, Feathergun is Rishloo's attempt to present unique sound to a growing audience. The album sees the band truly beginning to come into their own, struggling to break free of some of the more obvious comparisons that have been and continue to be made. However, a strong effort alone does not a good album make: ultimately it falls short of truly succeeding in its goal. There is a clear absence of stand-out tracks, and at 60 minutes long, the album is just a bit too much to digest.
At best, Feathergun is a definite step in the right direction. While the band's influences are still overtly present in each song, Rishloo is at the very least finally beginning to find their own sound. // 6
- Chris McDonald (c) 2010