HORSE the Band - A Natural Death (Cover Artwork)

HORSE the Band

HORSE the Band: A Natural DeathA Natural Death (2007)
E1 Music

Reviewer Rating: 3.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: InaGreendaseBrian
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Holy shit, HORSE the Band are talented. Sift through all the early Nintendo worship, outwardly goofy tactics and a keyboard player bearing a striking resemblance to Napoleon Dynamite and you have one of the more creative and ambitious bands doing this current, terribly bastardized style called me.
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Holy shit, HORSE the Band are talented.

Sift through all the early Nintendo worship, outwardly goofy tactics and a keyboard player bearing a striking resemblance to Napoleon Dynamite and you have one of the more creative and ambitious bands doing this current, terribly bastardized style called metalcore. Nowhere has their talent been more prevalent, however, than on A Natural Death, an accomplished effort that, despite a few flaws running through it, might be the band's best and most mature album yet.

For starters, there's vocalist Nathan Winneke, who previously slogged his way through HORSE's albums grumbling and barking over the mic with little-to-no tone or range. Here, he's a little more in tune with someone like Mike Patton; his newfound diversity really is that striking. He gravelly shouts (√¡ la Sean Ingram) with a hearty conviction and often aims for higher pitches (with usually positive results), other times lowering the intensity for bizarre, background-set singing to match the accompanying moods. He's most impressive in numbers like "The Beach" and the dynamic "The Startling Secret of Super Sapphire."

Musically, HORSE has clearly been inspired by the likes of avant-rock acts, perhaps Patton's Mr. Bungle for one, as well as the more technical metal/hardcore acts that followed in that band's wake a decade later (Dillinger Escape Plan, psy0pus, Lye by Mistake). The latter certainly doesn't take over HORSE's sound, but it's certainly added an interesting aspect to the mix, while Erik Engstrom's literal Game Boy usage helps retain their signature element.

"Face of Bear" gurgles and spits a flow of sorts, punctuated by Engstrom's hyperactive fiddling on the keys, Winneke's thunderous roar, and every so often what sounds like a pack of feasting wolves. It's rather demonic, and while the tongue is still obviously planted square in cheek, you almost believe the band is completely serious. Many of A Natural Death's tracks carry this same ambiguity, as well as crushing, sometimes mid-song breakdowns, the occasional metal squeal and rarely repeated riffs; the band's guitarists show a knack for deliberate, well-thought out chord progressions and varied tones. "New York City" carries an unusually softer, melodic section even, but more in the spirit of Hydra Head than Hawthorne Heights. What resembles a group of shouting Japanese school girls gives "The Red Tornado" a humorous flair.

Unfortunately, in exchange for this mildly more serious tone is the fun -- there's still some obvious foolishness that abounds (the dance party rave-up "Sex Raptor" [accented by Engstrom's hip-shaking pixels and some vocoder] and the Raffi-meets-Satan sing-along "Kangarooster Meadows" are both pretty hilarious), but more often than not A Natural Death is an intent, professional display. The album is rather long, too; it's certainly not an arduous listen, but you're likely to have had your fill well before the 16 songs and 55 minutes have passed, with a few wandering, mellow instrumentals for the most part wrapping up the disc.

Still, A Natural Death proves mightily that HORSE is more than a gimmick, with skillful, ambitious songwriting tools and just the right amount of humor to prevent that potential arrogance this album shows they could rightfully hold.

Face of Bear
Sex Raptor
The Red Tornado


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
buttfart (December 11, 2007)

bring me the horizon suck
horse the band rule
whoever said bring me the horizon are better is a penis

HughManatee (December 11, 2007)

I honestly thought this album was undoubtedly amazing.

It takes a few listens, but each track is as important as the one that precedes it and follows it. HORSE really expanded their savage creative minds on this one. While The Mechanical Hand has more of their signature sound, this takes a leap into a wicked new direction. Horse is one of those bands that I love listening to because when you're listening to them , you immediately realize this:

The world is segregated into those who LIKE H.T.B. and those that DISLIKE H.T.B. , with the latter being mentally handicapped. Seriously, there's no being "on the fence" with these guys. Love em' or hate em', your choice. I love the mood shifts on these CDS, it's almost a remedy to ADD or some strange first-person-view of a person with severe bi-polar disorder. Tracks like "Treasure Train" and "The Startling Secret Of Super Sapphire" throw you for a loop and have a real genre-bending sound to them. As far as the afore-mentioned, so-called "filler-tracks" , perhaps they could trim the fat maybe just a little bit , but "Rotting Horse' is down-right fucking EPIC! It opens "....Metaphysical Crisis" up flawlessly. And as far as "Lif" goes, the fact that as the song progresses they rewind through all the 'samples' used on the entire album all the way to Hyborea with the wolf howling.......geez........talk about cerebral! This is one of my fav. albums of all time.

ps. Brian, Nathan's vocals never appeared on "The Beach"......that song is simply an odd instrumental piece that leaves you with the image of a girl crying along the shoreline for no apparent reason while seagulls stalk her like sea-vultures.

nocigar (October 1, 2007)

wow this sounds just like my neighbors shitty ass band who i hear practicing all the time, very similar in a horrible way.

Ianw (October 1, 2007)

didn't they fire their drummer on stage, cus thats hilarious

SilentStorms (October 1, 2007)

Best cd they've released. Not as consistent as The Mechanical Hand, but c'mon, this cd has at least 5 amazing songs. I'm used to Horse having 2 amazing songs, 3 good songs, and a bunch of filler. Change is nice. Oh, and I must ask who picks New England and who picks Cincinnati for the Monday night game? I want Cinci to win but I expect the Pats to take it. Yep, football commentary on a punk website. Dealies. Score is for the 49ers ... when they were good.

xote (September 30, 2007)

I do not like this band and won't listen to this.

hipstersmustdie (September 30, 2007)

There are songs on this album called "Sex Raptor" and "Kangarooster Meadows," how much goofier do you want them to be?

danperrone (September 30, 2007)

i never really got into this one, but "new york city" is amazing

tenwestchaser (September 30, 2007)

Opsdrummer, I sort of get that vibe too. I havent actually been able to see them live yet (will at saints and sinners AND with gwar) but i recall their video diary shit for this album. There was a moment in an episode where their keyboardist was "writing some stupid chiodos song" and then did and commented again by laughing and saying "god that is so stupid" or something to that extent. Not that chiodos is good but that just seems to sum up the band to me...as if they are part of some elite group of amazing bands and so much better than everyone else. Either way, still goofy fun listening to them.

whatchokesbegin (September 30, 2007)

I'm not gonna lie, I always thought this band was stupid and their music is just the bad kind of noise.

opsdrummer (September 30, 2007)

this album is good, it's too bad the band comes off like pretentious assholes in their live shows. committed to saying fuck this, fuck that, fuck life, blah blah blah. shut the fuck up and play your songs. they think that they are hot shit, when in actuality all of the bands that they tour with could usually school the shit out of them (i.e. bring me the horizon). don't get me wrong, i've liked horse the band since its conception. i was ultimately turned off when i saw their subpar show (at best) and onstage antics. maybe not being pricks would be a good start to broaden your fanbase, but knowing them, they're probably like "fuck the fans." well, my retort is plain and simple. "fuck horse the band."

HumanUnkind (September 29, 2007)

The production is epic. It sounds incredible. This is the first HORSE album that doesn't sound a bit crap. Score is for that.

tenwestchaser (September 28, 2007)

So....is the production up to par on this album? Horse never fails to dissapoint me with their guitar tone. It just seems so dilluted and pushed to the background when I want it to be loud, crunchy and right up front. Thoughts?

HumanUnkind (September 28, 2007)

I've been listening to this album a lot and have found that with time comes appreciation. Songs like Crow Town and Rotting Horses took a lot of listening before I enjoyed them and I think this is one of the best Metal (I refuse to call this metalcore) albums I have heard in a long time. Even overly long songs like '...metaphysical crisis' have blown me away after several listens. However weird songs like The Beach are, and Crickets, I can't help but love them for their surreality. The weakest song, and about the only real downside to this cd, is Lif, which doesn't really go anywhere. I LOVE IT!

i-type-poorly (September 28, 2007)

I usualy try to be civil with my opinions, but.. fuck. THIS ALBUM IS SHIT. It's a fucking embarrassment. They tried to be serious, and ended up exposing the fact that their general sillyness was what made them good. This is just flat out bad music. Let me know when they are ready to have fun again.

douglas_is_rad (September 28, 2007)

I don't know how I feel about this. The only reason I used to listen to HORSE the band was because that did not take themselves seriously at all. Their music was just so fun.

brown (September 28, 2007)

This is exactly how I feel. I love HORSE and while this album just isn't as fun as their previous material, I just can't deny how much these songs rock.

GlassPipeMurder (September 28, 2007)

agreed on all parts, well articulated.

punkengineer (September 28, 2007)

Not anywhere near as good as Mechanical Hand but still pretty good. I wish they would get rid of all the filler material between the songs.

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