20 Sep 2020
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Spook The Horses - Album Review: Empty Body

27 Aug 2020 // A review by Kris Raven

Eclectic post metallers Spook the Horses have released their 4th full length album Empty Body. Formed in 2009, this Wellington based 6-piece have spent the last 11 years creating artistically diverse and genre bending music, whether it be 2017's beautifully haunting and a little more chill album People Used To Live Here or their recent single releases where they have delivered unrelenting, progressively heavy soundscapes, shaping their impending new album.

Being a fan of some bands that have shaped their sound, I find this type of music and artistry is not a one-time listen. There is a lot to unpack throughout the 9 songs. Upon each listen, there is a lot going on with each player and what I like is there is no unnecessary layers of elements added for flair. Each instrument has a prominence and while there is a certain live aspect to the playing and the production, it's also very well produced. While certain songs and passages contain elements of chaotic unease, it is balanced with intricate ideas and nothing is swallowed by its surroundings. I really enjoyed the off beat drums that are sporadic throughout the album, the drive of the bass that held a lot of the rhythm together, the guitars that mimic each other and then sprawl around the fret board intermingling and the sheer aggressive force of the vocals that play out more as another instrument.

First track Self Destroyer does not hold back and is quick to engage. The drumming reminds me of mid-90's Neurosis, impressive tom-tom patterns, layered on thick with sludgy driving bass tones and thunderous guitar riffs. The discordant guitars, particularly the upscale playing reminds of the frantic passion of bands like Converge. Cell Death, which was released recently, carries a fairly upbeat but offbeat pace. There's a certain parts that remind me of early 2000's metal bands like Poison the Well, the vocal aggression and harshness and some of the guitar ideas and tones. I love the synth near the end, haunting and eerie that fades out with the guitar, has a certain House of Flies sound too it.

A complex drum piece delivers us to Counting Down Days of Bone, this song takes us all over, with ever shifting time signatures and multi layers of discordant goodness. Vocals are scattered throughout; I loved the violent intensity when the vocals are first introduced and then the music proceeds into a post rock metal instrumental. Apology Rot begins without hesitation, down stroked guitar chords bellow out as screamed vocals punch you in the ear throat. The song then ebbs and flows flawlessly, syncopated drum and bass carrying the main melody, it soon moves into an instrumental piece when guitars are slowly added slowly ascending into the next arc.

The mid-section of the album continues the groovy pace with Writhing following suit, the lead guitar has a middle eastern sound to it and the guitars are really showcased here again, being driven by the massive rhythm section and some flawlessly tight drum fills. Gesalt is the shortest track on the album, the tone of the guitars are such a standout throughout the album and this small piece gives us a slight break in the intensity before the onslaught continues with The Maw. Like all the songs on the album, it does not follow a standard procedural structure. The bass is amplified carrying one of the key riffs, there is so much melody to be found as each piece builds and digresses.

Watermark is a beautiful dark song, the only fully ambient piece. It’s a nice breather in among the rest and lets your ears just relax a little to enjoy this dark and broody guitar piece, very interesting chord structures too. But as the song progresses the pained screamed vocals come and claim their place, which is something I really enjoy in heavy music. Having the stripped back light element suddenly darkened is a great dynamic approach.

Inheritance is the most recent track dropped and an excellent choice for the final track. A little straighter with some big groove from the bass and drums and some bounce too it . The most interesting choice was what seemed like the final climatic build up, with the epic and soaring tremolo sweeping guitars and cymbals flying everywhere, massive and exciting. But then the song so surprisingly drops back to the main groove we have heard throughout and the song ends. Which at first I was like um but now I praise because it was unexpected and ends in the tone the album began with.

This album is heavy but there is so much more too it. While the vocal cadences don't change a lot throughout, there is a lot of emotion and feel that stings hard and perhaps a little spiritual channeling from post metal vocal giants like Aaron Turner. I would highly recommend multiple listens to every song, let them grow, absorb them and be sure to go out and support this incredible band. 2020 sucks but the music is 100!

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )
 

About Spook The Horses

Spook the Horses are a heavy post-rock band from Wellington, New Zealand. The band formed as a four piece in 2009. Zach replaced Callum as drummer in 2010, and the group started arranging and finalising tracks for their first album, 'Brighter' which was released in December, 2011.

The band layers three guitars, synthesiser and samples with bass and drums to create monumental songs that are at once saturated and spacious. Desperate vocals sparsely punctuate the mostly-instrumental tracks. The album expands upon the textural sonic landscapes familiar from Spook the Horses’ live shows.


Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Spook The Horses

Releases

Empty Body
Year: 2020
Type: Album
People Used To Live Here
Year: 2017
Type: Album
Rainmaker
Year: 2015
Type: Album
Brighter
Year: 2011
Type: Album

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