Review Summary: Nails on a chalkboard
Haunted Horses have made every effort to make one the most “nails on a chalkboard” albums I’ve heard in a while. Pretty much everything said previously about this album’s lack of resolution is true. Throughout Watcher dissonance is the only form of communication. However, against all of that, it’s hauntingly danceable. For some unfathomable reason, this particular combination of gloom and darkness forces at the very least a foot-tap to the (not quite) evil chanting, yelling, pounding percussion, and scraping guitars and keyboards.
It’s the drumming that gives Watcher momentum and just enough structure to be memorable. It’s tribal first and foremost, providing an organic base for everything else to hold on to, but taking occasional turns into electronica and dance inspired rhythms (most notably on “The Void”). As this groundwork is laid, the guitars and keyboards create a suffocating atmosphere with melodies and sounds that could only come from a tortured mind. These are only compressed even more by vocals that sound like Josh Homme has lost his soul and is searching for its remnants without hope for success, screaming into a hollow abyss. It’s a constant push towards a climax that isn’t going to happen, but somehow you keep listening to the album in hopes that one is going to come.
The formula Haunted Horses have devised is one without a solution, but that’s what makes them stand out. They’ve made a conscious effort to leave every song on a melodical cliffhanger. The strategy works beautifully, forcing repeated spins in search of an answer, only for the listener to become trapped in the bleak and jagged landscape of Watcher. They’ve made a catch without any of the hooks.