HORSE The Band came out of nowhere really, when their debut full-length R. Borlax
hit the shelves. After a few EPs which didn't offer much else to compete with the hardcore scene, this 10-track CD was filled with fast pace, devilish riffs and screams, and those unusual keyboard melodies which reminded us of our 8-bit NES days. Still, it took them 3 years to finally release their sophomore albuum, The Mechanical Hand
(Originally titled SUPER HORSE The Band
, which I prefer to be honest). It's filled to the brim with 13 tracks, each with their own qualities and reminders of why we loved this band to begin with.
"Birdo" kicks off this album with a weird spoken passage, then bursts into a hastey drum beat. It sounds very typical HORSE, with unbelieveable double bass pedal work and keyboard melodies which made me wonder why they are even there, and even more why I love them. It breaks down into an intense keyboard-based bridge with weird harmonic noises every now and then, and it feels a little too surreal for the band's style. Still, this song is a great example of HORSE's musical stylings. It's not until "The House Of Bod" that I'm taken back to their debut. 4 minutes of DEP-esque metalcore breakdowns, a bridge you wouldn't really expect from this band and a sweet bassline, something that is generally quite underated about this band. The second bridge sounds like free-for-all jazz on the keyboards, and it took me straight back to the Sonic The Hedgehog 2 days. "Octopus On Fire" is another 4-minute long extraganza of insane little licks on a very over-distorted guitar matching well-played keyboard melodies. Trust me when I say the keyboard riff in the bridge will make you want to listne to this song in all it's glory again.
But still, I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed at this effort. A lot of these songs don't really add much to the band's already gimmicky style of music, and instead just remind me that they are pretty much geeks who grabbed a guitar one day and started playing. They do a lot more experimentation on this album, with songs like "Heroes Die" playing above a 3 and a half-minute battle between medievil soldiers, and the almost hair-metal style solo that leads throughout "Soaring Quails" making interesting sounds. But they don't really follow it up well. 2 of the songs on this album are instrumental (Brilliantly played none-the-less, but still instrumentals), and 2 others are just over 1 minute each. One of these songs is the high-speed "Taken By Vultures", one of the best songs on the album I think. It involves HORSE's almost natural talent of pulling out hardcore riffs in a short space of time, since a lot of the songs on this album rise over 4 minutes.
The truth is, this is HORSE The Band's effort to find a new sound for themselves and expand as a band without losing their already appealing and brilliantly-constructed musical styles. Sadly, they don't pull this off that well. Many of the songs on this album sound the same, which would be better if all the tracks weren't so long and didn't drag out. Generally, you have to wait about 2 minutes to get to the bridge of each song, which is the place where they really bust out and you realize they can play some awesome music. The Killers' style of keyboard-based indie pop feels present in "Manateen", and "A Rusty Glove" has a very retro bridge with more keyboard melodies and palm-muting. Luckily, the album ends on a good note. "The Black Hole" is most definately the best song on the album, with dynamic shifts between volumes and styles, and very unique keyboard riffs which match the song's ongoing darker mood. The second bridge just feels brilliant, backed by just keyboard and bass, and they compliment each other amazingly. The middle of this song feels like you are playing Super Mario 3, an equally superb game. It all finishes off with an out-of-the-blue style piano melody, which fades out into a clever soundbite from Statler and Waldorf, the old guy hecklers from the Muppets.
Let's face it, this album would never touch R. Borlax
. That is just a cult-classic, with a near perfect set of songs. However, with The Mechanical Hand
, it feels as if HTB don't care about comparisons between the 2 albums. What this album lacks in classic songs like "Cutsment" and "Sevententacles And Eight Flames", it tries desperately to make up for in experimentation with riffs and melodies, and mixing into different sounds (In the beginning of "Lord Gold Throneroom", I'm certain a mic was placed in a room where an orgy was taking place. Either way, it sure sounds like that). Sadly, HORSE The Band don't deliver as well as they were expected to, but give them time to write more riffs and lyrics inspired by the games of the 80s and 90s. Of course, songs like "Birdo", "The House Of Bod", "Taken By Vultures" and "The Black Hole" are all amazing highlights of this CD, reeking with the band's addictive sound
ck "Nintendo-core", this is "SNES-core".
[url]http://www.purevolume.com/horsetheband[/url] (Listen to "Birdo" and "The Black Hole" from the album)