Review Summary: Like digging for gold.
Nothing in the world demands more attention than a band that simply sounds huge
, and no adjective more aptly or concisely describes Horsehunter. Once the gargantuan guitar presence found in the opening moments of ‘Stoned to Death’ is felt, all doubt concerning what the listener is in for is immediately removed. On this goliath of a debut, with an intriguing blend of stoner rock and sludge metal, these Australian musicians have produced a lead-heavy album attempting to wade its way through honey.
Caged in Flesh
opens with an abrasive mammoth of a track, not only sonically but in terms of duration as well. Over a quarter of an hour in length alone, ‘Stoned to Death’ wastes absolutely none of the time it takes, justifying every moment with incredible songwriting and musicianship. The track starts off low and slow, the attention focused on the drumming for a while before the guitars move in and dominate the soundscape. As the track lurches forward it begins to resemble a shambling giant; large and powerful but somewhat lethargic, taking care with its movements. The drummer is impeccable and adds exactly what the track needs each time, be it some atmospheric cymbal crashing or a percussive assault on the senses. Undeniably it’s the guitars which draw the most focus from the listener, often combining long, drawn-out chord progressions and sluggish riffs with rapid soloing throughout the album in the most mesmerizing of ways. The bass guitar weaves in and out of every track, subtly piecing together the backbone of the album alongside the infallible drumming.
Everything here sounds larger-than-life, but never feels suffocating or overbearing, always with plenty of room to breathe and flow. The album is almost akin to something that the fellow stoner-influenced band Kyuss might create had they adopted the metal genre into their sound and lowered the BPM. The title track exemplifies Horsehunter’s meandering style to the greatest extent, slowing to the point of almost stopping until a rocking guitar riff revives the track once more. Fitting for this style of music, the vocals are harsh and the lyrics are dismal. Bassist Himi Stringer and guitarist Michael Harutyunyan are responsible for vocal duties and both impress with their distinct styles, utilising hoarse screams and strained yells as opposed to the low growls which are common within the sludge and doom metal genres.
With Caged in Flesh
, Horsehunter have produced a monolith of an album, an attack on all fronts with an air of understated restraint and intelligent songwriting behind it. With a thick, syrupy sound sure to appease sludge metal enthusiasts, coupled with groovy stoner influences that ensure a memorable experience, Caged in Flesh
is the equivalent of digging for gold, and finding diamonds.