Review Summary: No qualms in saying Abruscato was deeply affected by Steele's death and if his goal was to blow a lofty, cheerless kiss of farewell to his former partner, then A Pale Horse Named Death rings precisely thus.
Type O Negative fans rejoice...
The loss of Peter Steele left a reeling effect upon the metal world--in particular the Goth and doom sects. Even though Steele's Type O Negative produced a bounty of material before his passing, the group's last collective effort Dead Again felt like unfinished business had been left in its wake. The album title being the most dastardly and prophetic of all puns (remember, Steele's death had been once falsely reported before the real deal occured), Steele's departure from this world opened the door for someone to replicate his dusky anthems of solitude and strange love.
Resurfacing in Steele's honor is Type O co-founder (and current Life of Agony drummer) Sal Abruscato. With a group name and album title reflective of a cross between Piers Anthony and Jeremiah Johnson, A Pale Horse Named Death is Abruscato's funereal homage to his fallen comrade. And Hell Will Follow Me isn't so much an extensive swan song dedicated to Steele so much as it is a proverbial crossing over into the dirge zone whence Abruscato presumes Steele to dwell. Doubtless it matches a mindframe stuck in purgatory, if you're to properly soak up A Pale Horse Named Death.
No surprise, then, that And Hell Will Follow Me resounds every bit as much as a Type O Negative and Alice in Chains album. On the few random tunes where Abruscato picks up the pace on "Bath in My Blood (Schizophrenia in Me)" and "Serial Killer," his voice and tempos match a less-commercialized Rob Zombie. Otherwise, it's very much a Type O album delivered by another voice, one you do take comfort in.
While And Hell Will Follow Me clocks in well past the 50-minute mark, there is a decided efficiency to Abruscato's work, even when set upon the repeat schism of slow, lumbering and cryptic. At times And Hell Will Follow Me is Type O lush and decorative, such as on "Pill Head," "As Black As My Heart," "Meet the Wolf" and "To Die In Your Arms." Even the hefty closing number "Die Alone" is graced with some tenor sax to sprinkle some extra texture. "When Crows Descend Upon You" mixes the pace between drudging and uptempo and Abruscato lavishes the song with an unexplainable charm. Not unexplainable if you're a fan of Type O Negative, that is. At large, Abruscato creates a dank, challenging hellscape carved out of Native American tradition and next-life passing myths.
In its strange manner, And Hell Will Follow Me is a celebratory montage of gloom and mysticism. Co-produced with Matt Brown of Seventh Void, Abruscato finds a doomy man-at-arms who understands the mission statement here. Biohazard guitarist Bobby Hambel also lends a hand to Abruscato's one-man-gang on "Devil in the Closet," "Cracks in the Walls" and "Heroin Train."
Without succumbing too deeply into the ether from which A Pale Horse Named Death traverses, Sal Abruscato has well-recreated a blackened vibe he helped instigate with Peter Steele. This is one heavy bitch of an album, as in the traditional meaning of heavy music. Dense, brutal and uncompromising, yes, but And Hell Will Follow Me is an album that presses its will upon you. You either allot for the album's mashing effect or you squirm away by "Bad Dream" if you haven't been able to withstand Abruscato's suffocation. "Die Alone" is so freaking depressing you deserve a reward for making it that far yet Abruscato delivers one with a near-beautiful coda to wrap And Hell Will Follow Me.