Horseback - Half Blood (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Half Blood (2012)


There are some band comparisons that just never work for me. No one is ever is as good as Jawbreaker, no one ever approaches Bruce Springsteen's grandeur. What people really mean when they say those things is, "I like this band a lot. They provide for me the kind of experience that you might have when you listen to this other band, even though, on a purely technical level, they don't sound alike."

I mention this because I want to compare psych-prog-whatever-gaze metal band Horseback to Neil Young, despite the fact that the group sounds nothing like him. The band's new record, Half Blood, isn't exactly After the Gold Rush.

But Horseback isn't purely a metal band either. The only strictly metal aspect of the songs would be those wolverine black metal growls, and they're arguably the one weak point here. You get used to them after a while, but they certainly clash a bit. The Americana leanings and impending sense of dread aren't too off from what Young accomplished on the Dead Man soundtrack. Sprinkle in some of Mogwai's post-rock heaviness, and you're close to understanding what Horseback accomplishes here.

The first half of the record has a great, droning, psychedelic mood going. "Mithras" and "Ahriman" establish some meaty grooves and proceed to rock thusly. Based on these first four songs, everybody needs to check out Horseback stat.

It's the record's second half, a three-song suite entitled "Hallucigenia," that might test listeners. Horseback is mostly an instrumental band anyway, but these three tracks function more as aural collages than as songs. Lots of droning. Lots of noise. Lots of shapelessness. They're great to drift off into, but they're not exactly driving music.

Half Blood, then, exists almost like two EPs put together. The first four tracks, while still pretty experimental in their own right, show what Horseback in a comparatively more streamlined state. The "Hallucigenia" suite is where shit gets crazy. It's a strong record overall, but be ready for a tonal shift half way through.