Review Summary: Crushing, groovy, heartfelt, superb.
If you're a band, wearing your influences on your sleeve can be dangerous. How many times have you heard of bands touted as "a brutal fusion of Genre A and Genre B!" or "sort of like Band X mixed with Band Y, with echoes of Band Z," and thought "...meh."
This reaction is definitely warranted; too often it seems bands can just sound like watered-down or re-hashed versions of whatever influences they cite. This isn't to say it doesn't work in many cases, and often when it works it works
. Still, it is with trepidation then that I recommend Palehorse
: "emotional" hardcore that is just sludgy as hell.
, just like the band's only other release Gee That Ain't Swell
, starts off with an intro type track. However, instead of the irreverent, feedback laden "Bliss
" is a surreal, ambient affair that wouldn't be out of place in a David Firth animation. The song jeers the listener, repeatedly feinting a climax. When the climax does come it's almost unexpected, the song increases in volume in such a hypnotic manner that the drummer's quick count in on the ride and resulting explosion as "What Community, What Scheme
" begins is very nearly overpowering.
It's at this point that it should probably be mentioned that Palehorse
don't actually have a guitarist, instead using two bassists to create their profoundly sludgy sound. As mentioned, the EP kicks off properly with an explosion of bass, and it's probably one of the heaviest and coolest grooves you'll ever hear. Don't let that give you the impression that it's just a one off though, this EP barely passes the twenty minute mark but is full of excellent bass work. Palehorse use their two vocalists to great effect, both sounding utterly contemptuous and abrasive, but also using a wide range of techniques from spoken and whispered words, singing and even low gutturals.
The build-up of "Waited
" into "What Community, What Scheme
" definitely sets a trend for the EP. Palehorse are adept at writing powerful, subdued build-ups that result in intense, emotional flourishes. These build-ups can be remarkably subtle, for instance in the first of two that occur in "I'm Afraid We're Still in Wheelchairs
" the only noticable change is the increasing agitation in the vocals. In the final song, "The Guiltiest Secret
", the build-up is almost overdone; delaying the pay-off for as long as possible with extremely quiet bass and whispered vocals before ending the EP appropriately with bitter screams and dejected bass work.
Palehorse are a band that have definitely been overlooked, but perhaps it's better that way. Their sound has a very "underground" vibe to it, and that adds to the overall nihilistic feel of their music.