HORSE the Band - The Mechanical Hand (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

HORSE the Band

The Mechanical Hand (2005)


Can one's tongue be shoved so far into one's cheek that it pierces the skin?

If so, HORSE the Band needs to take a surgeon on tour with them.

The Mechanical Hand is the sophomore effort from the Nintendocore ambassadors, and a definite step up from the cult phenom debut, R. Borlax. The record finds the band delving even further into experimentation coupled with a stronger sense of melody. The gimmicky but way too fun portion of the band's sound is as prominent as ever on the record and the theme runs even stronger, but it all works well within the band's everchanging dynamics.

Lead singer Nathan Winneke's voice still isn't particularly impressive, as he still sounds like he's singing constantly verklempt; it's a surprise the vocals make it past his teeth it sounds like they're clenched so tight. This is especially notable in the lead track "Birdo," a song written as an ode to Birdo, the egg-spitting, gender-confused dinosaur-like sort-of villain creature from what North America knows as Super Mario Bros. 2 (the game was originally Arabian themed and named Doki Doki Panic, and with tweaking converted into the Mario sequel). Lyrics like "seven year old smile -- vanishing / eggs, why eggs? / it's breaking my heart / it's hurting my nose / it's turning my -- skin green / why did you have to be -- so mean?" adorn the song, as well as the rest of the album. After a furious drum fill and a mimiced sound of Birdo releasing an egg, a hyperactive keyboard lick follows and the hardcore/metal tendencies of HORSE are once again revealed in "Birdo," with Winneke's frustrated sputter weaving in and out of the chords. An otherwise brutal breakdown is lightened up, humor-speaking, with a stuttered flow of 8-bit noise. With distortion on his voice in perhaps the best track, "A Rusty Glove" (another of the band's specific dedications to The Power Glove), Winneke sounds especially stonewalled singing "I'm not a robot but I've got a mechancial hand!"

The rest of the record continues the outright bizzareness that's likely to be heightened in HORSE's reputation, messing around with aspects of screamo, death metal, and metalcore. "The House of Bod" offers a random Dillinger-esque mathcore moment in its early goings; in another song, one couplet blatantly goes "sleep well mechanical thing / you were fun for a while / but now I'm going to go / ... / get a burrito;" "Heroes Die" works against the emitting sounds of a battle between Medieval soldiers; standout "Octupus on Fire" seriously bites the opening riff of 311's "You Wouldn't Believe;" the breakdown of the minute and a half-long "Taken By Vultures" involves Winneke spouting "Slaves! / masturbate -- to a single note" and an appropriately dragged keyboard note; "Load Gold Throneroom" seemingly opens with a mic planted in the room of an ongoing orgy; finally, the record ends amazingly clever, with a soundbite from Statler and Waldorf, the old guy hecklers from the Muppets.

While certainly lengthy at 13 tracks and over 50 minutes -- with the last four songs on the album all surpassing the four-minute mark -- The Mechanical Hand manages to mock an entire genre or two not just with the addition of a single instrument, but like the truly unique outfit's first record, with an entire theme surrounding it. It's about as entertaining as music as can get, and how long HORSE can drag out this likeable schtick will be determined in the near or far future. For now, they're refining and tinkering with their sound and coming out with results increasingly amusing, enjoyable, and ridiculous all the same.

The Black Hole