Horseback / Locrian - New Dominions (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Horseback / Locrian

New Dominions (2012)


Americana/black metal hybrid Horseback has been having a banner year thanks to the On the Eclipse 7" and Half Blood. They also dropped a split with their dark buddies Locrian a while back in limited release entitled New Dominions. Now that both bands are with Relapse Records, the label is releasing an extended version of the split. It is the droniest.

Aesthetically, Horseback could be compared to Jesu. Stylistically, they're pretty different, but both acts tend to use EPs for longer, more atmospheric material while writing full-lengths that function as cohesive albums. In other words, New Dominions is big on long stretches of noisy nothingness.

Backed by two new tracks and a remix, the split features extended periods of ambient feedback and repetitive percussion. Screaming is at a minimum, used tastefully to further convey moments of dread. At times, these feel less like songs than they do moods. "The Gift," provided in six- and nine-minute versions, sounds like howling wind mixed with a dash of ghosts. No lie. This is the least metal two metal bands can get without being Poison.

Yet for the soundscapes, New Dominions has periods of intense beauty. While it's very much an experimental record, a point further driven home by the bonus tracks, the set further showcases Horseback's range, in addition to giving kids something to sink beneath while Locrian writes their full-length for Relapse. Perhaps better treated as a silent film given its focus on mood over movement, New Dominions is nonetheless a haunting listen.