"They're 'classic heavy rock,' or so they tell me," Aftermath texted a friend shortly before Austin's White Rhino went onstage at Boondocks Monday night. "Heavy metal, or just heavy?" came the reply. White Rhino had just gone on, with some menacing guitar spray and a kinetic bassline reminiscent of Detroit proto-punks the MC5. "Heavy. Little/no metal." The band played a couple more songs. "OK...maybe a little metal." Maybe a little more than a little.
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Sure enough, the longer White Rhino played, the more metal it got. The dogged riff and methanized bassline of "Certain Death" came off like Thin Lizzy meets Nirvana, with some gloomy bell-tolling Bauhaus bass and an avalanche of feedback in the bridge. If "Danger Danger," all surly speed and power chords, wasn't a Motorhead cover, it could have been. "Fuck the Police," which was definitely not an N.W.A. cover, started off like Black Sabbath, or maybe Lemmy's other band, Hawkwind, a plodding, spacey, psych-y riff that, more or less, mutated into "War Pigs" and ended with some gnarly thrash-blues. So yeah, it was mostly metal, with some dirty ZZ Top boogie and early Sub Pop angst (think Mudhoney) thrown in for added flavor. There's a whole colony of bands out in Austin repurposing '60s and '70s hard rock for leaner and meaner times, from Amplified Heat to the Strange Boys to White Denim, and if they keep this up, White Rhino may be about to charge to the head of the line.