Review Summary: At times brilliant, at times amateur, R. Borlax delivers where it counts.
Horse The Band is, as the name might suggest, an anomaly. They pull from the beautiful, 8-bit sounds of my childhood video games, and place them in frantic, discombobulated metal tracks. In R. Borlax, this results in the conflicting attributes of babbling, incoherent nonsense and masterful brilliance that can only be found in the most established set pieces.
"Seven Tentacles and Eight Flames" begins the bombardment of bizarre vocals, dancing synths, punk drum beats, and heavy, downtuned guitar. The vocalist constantly transitions between yells and shrieks and rarely strays from the topic of NES video games. He fits with the music perfectly, but his sophomoric delivery has a tendency to expound the grating and chaotic nature of the album a little too much. At 1:10 enters the most baffling element of Horse The Band's music. The drum beats slow, and the musicians erupt into an unbelievably inspired interlude. Buzzing bass line, slick guitar, catchy keys, and drum-fills galore exemplify one of the most cohesive jam seshes you'll ever hear. And then, as quickly as it came, the beautiful interlude leaves, and Horse The Band delves back into their obscure brand of metal. Thus, illuminates the contradiction of Horse The Band. It is like they are a covert group of seasoned veterans disguised as a silly, "Nintendo-core" band.
The lyrics only further emphasize this juxtaposition. The next track, "Cutsman", has an overall more accessible ring to it and contains another of the stand out moments of the album. After an abruptly dark and heavy breakdown, the song transitions into wonderfully layered synth and a mock drum beat. The vocals come in with, "Little android man, born without a soul, without a voice of reason, scissors took control, little android man, born without a heart, if he's in your vicinity, he'll cut you apart". Is he talking about the villain of the NES video game, "Mega Man", or is he describing a sociopath from his life who ravaged him? Is this an amateur band of talented teens or a cynical group of grizzled musicians? I don't know.
R. Borlax has plenty of stand out moments, and plenty of...not stand out moments. But you have to give them credit for pursuing a style that is truly their own and attaining a distinctive sound. Something as simple as the forceful tone of the breakdowns in "Purple" and "Big Blue Violence" adds an extra edge to the atmosphere and lyrics that would otherwise be forgettable. It also helps that these two songs contain interludes that could be infinitely looped, and I would be eternally entertained.