Reviews Horseback Half Blood


Half Blood

I remember distinctly the first time I was introduced to Horseback. It was by their 2012 album Half Blood, and I'm told that my experiences were pretty standard. For the uninitiated, your first few seconds of listening to Horseback will inevitably go something like this:

"Hm. This is some pretty interesting post-rocky stuff. Oh, hold on, something's messed up with this audio. I keep hearing this static thing, like someone is using sandpaper to scourge the inside of my speakers and--wait, those are the vocals? "

Let's just say Horseback's most noticeable feature is that they take what folks might normally consider acceptable limits for black metal vocals's, er, blackness and then proceed to go so far beyond them that they're actually recorded with a two hour delay to account for the difference in time zones. They're approach background noise instead of driving lead, creating an atmosphere that is decidedly unique and haunting.

Of course, that's not all there is to them. Though Horseback definitely take cues from black metal, their music is as far from it as you can get, sounding much closer to something I'm just going describe as post-black folkadelic. Repetitious melodies plod on and on, creating a near-hypnotic sensation, while the guitars swing from crazy drone-metal walls of sound to light, artsy acoustic ambience. Long-term fans of the band will notice that they have lightened their sound a bit--there isn't anything near the crushing drone and doom of their excellent 2011 compilation The Gorgon Tongue. But the generally dark tone of the band is constant--the music never deviates from this brooding, almost macabre aesthetic that both intrigues and frightens.

The album does fall prey to some of the usual post-rock pitfalls, namely pieces that just go on too damn long without any development. Though you could argue that it is done to build atmosphere, I will say there's a difference between building the mood and just running out of ideas halfway through a 10-minute song. This is my main complaint against the final track, "The Emerald Tablet", which drags on way past its welcome. Granted, that is the only moment that stuck out to me as tiresome--the rest of the album is superb and remains so.

In general, if you're a fan of post-rock but couldn't ever get into black metal (or vice versa), or if you just really love dark, atmospheric rock music that you probably shouldn't listen to alone at 2 AM, then give Horseback a try. If nothing else, they can safely guarantee an original musical experience.

7.0 / 10Sarah
KFAI - Roar of the Underground
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7.0 / 10

7.0 / 10

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