Hell City Kings/White Rhino, Hell City Kings vs. White Rhino

Hell City Kings/White Rhino, Hell City Kings vs. White Rhino

Whoa. A gang of legendarily wild, tattooed, hard-drinking dudes from right here in H-town versus a similarly-tattooed, leather-clad trio from Austin, both of which I’ve heard insane party/show stories about? That’d be one hell of a brawl, right there; it’d be fun to watch, sure, but I’m not sure anybody would leave the room in one piece.

Thankfully, in these more civilized times, Houston’s Hell City Kings and Austin’s White Rhino (who are, by the way, definitely not “White Rhino” the South Carolina folk-country band) decided to take the faceoff to the vinyl instead of the cage, with their new Hell City Kings vs. White Rhino split-7″. The result is a rough-edged, fists-flying double shot of boozy, blues-tinged rawk that nods at both garage-rock and metal while swearing allegiance to neither.

On the Hell City Kings side, we’ve got “No Hope For Change,” a muddy, raw blast of loud, yell-along garage-y goodness that’s simultaneously a bang-your-head rocker and an utterly bitter, jaded, quasi-sociopolitical rant about the state of the world today — the repeated, muttered refrain of “We’re not alright” at the end is as accurate a condemnation of modern society as I’ve heard lately. And hey, for all that, it’s still a fun, fun song, blurring out the line between grimy street-punk and metal pretty much completely; the Kings sound like an angry drunk that gets knocked to the floor and comes up swinging, and they connect nicely.

Then there’s White Rhino on the other side, with “Burn My Candle,” which is a galloping, stomping pile of fuzzy-thick, crunching guitars that call to mind Federation X but that seemingly channels some Queens of the Stone Age swagger into that stomp. Weirdly enough, my favorite parts are the stop-start breakdown bits: “Let’s get started / let’s begin / If you don’t like me / just pretend.” After just one listen, I spent the rest of the damn day humming the song’s signature riff over and over to myself.

So, who wins? Tough call; I was psyched to realize that White Rhino’s “Burn My Candle” was one of the best songs I heard/saw ’em blaze through last year at The Mink, and it’s definitely the tighter, more fully-realized track of the two, as gloriously sludgy as it sounds. At the same time, though, the Hell City Kings tracks burns with a furious energy, pounding the floor with a fury you’re not likely to see from most of today’s “punk” crew.

With that in mind, then — and considering the fact that I wouldn’t want to face off with either outfit in a dark alley — I’m calling it a draw. A badass draw, that is.

[Hell City Kings are playing 3/23/11 at Warehouse Live, along with The Adicts, Phantom Pains, Los Skarnales, & The Wrong Ones.]
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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