Pale Horseman – ‘The Fourth Seal’   3 comments

Welcome to sludge doom metal band Pale Horseman’s forthcoming release, ‘The Fourth Seal’. A self release, recorded, mixed and mastered at Comatose Studio, in Bradley, Illinois, USA, by Dennis Pleckham, of Bongripper. The band feel that since new drummer Jason Shryver  joined the line-up, the overall sound, quality and production of their work has improved immeasurably. It’s this positive influence to which they attribute increased pride and confidence in their music, in particular, this release.

Pale Horseman hail from Chicago, utilising twin guitar and vocals and a pounding drum section. With acclaimed live performances, their studio albums are produced by some of their own favoured influences, for instance, Dennis Pleckham, Noah Landis of Neurosis and Justin Broadrick of Godflesh.

Final War – Instant impacting, attention grabbing, heavy riff intro. The sludge comes into play immediately, with obvious elements of death and doom metal, vocally audible. Whilst it’s not what you could call exciting, it’s not too downbeat to listen to either. Slightly samey, for most of the track, but there’s enough melodic and rhythmic alternation, to make it an okay listen.

Witches Will Gather – Again, fairly riff focused, with a large sludge/doom aspect. TBF, nothing from this genre is likely to win prizes for upbeat sounds, but that’s not it’s aim. Having said that, there is definite catch in this track and its hooks, from the mid-section on, are undeniable. Slowing the pace down, increasingly, from there, it fades out on a reverb sound. Passable.

Aokigahara – Classic doom/sludge intro, with some more deathy stuff included, it’s just more of a standard filler, than being inspiring in any way. However, there’s also variation in sound, style and technique, after the mid-point. It seems it’s a trend, with Pale Horseman, to incorporate the changes and diversity from the central point of tracks. Still, there’s not much change, after that. Slight ominous sense to the outro, but given it’s a sludge/doom album, that’s to be expected.

Bereavement – Slowing and seemingly toning things down even further now. Interestingly, early Sabbath-esque. Deeply ominous now, exuding sinister force. Gaining in strength, there’s a wilful energy infecting this track here. Blatantly battle-esque and severe, in tone, till the merest chink of light manifests, in the slightest loosening of the instrumentals, through which, that minimally higher key is performed. By the closing section, you’re aware of the impressive aural portrayal of ‘bereavement’, itself.

Gnashing Of Teeth – Alarmingly affecting, physically palpable intro. Enough in itself, to distract you, with its sudden, unexpected impact. Much like how you might imagine being slammed and sandwiched between two cars and then thrown from bumper-to-bumper incessantly. P.H. are certainly skilled at immortalising the sense of physicality, inherent within their track titles.

Forlorn Extinction – Coming into the intro, in a manner so smooth, it better befits a mid-way point, like one long, continuous stream of consciousness. A noticeably more aggressive edge to the lyrics, creeping into the accompaniments, till it becomes the song’s general essence. Unusual choice of sentiment for this particular title, but well delivered.

Pale Rider – Lots of slide in the opening riffs and not discounting that now ubiquitous darkness, embodying and enshrouding the vocals. A bit morose, but it is doom/sludge, after all. Just a concerted doom fest. An overshadowing sense of encroaching, impending doom, expected of a track so entitled. In that respect, it does its job well.

Tyrant – Livening things up now, with a marked uplift in pitch and a breathier rhythm, it exudes a powerful angry force. Becoming angrier, in deference to the title, it’s just a forceful energy, overpowering, in its strength.

Phantasmal Voice – Highly catchy drum rhythm intro, that’s the prime focus now, with the prideful, tribal vocals, primal in their delivery. Some snazzier, jazzier riffs and a more concentrated rhythm. Very classic heavy Dio-esque vocal section in there; fans of the Dio, Iommi, Sazzo version of ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ won’t forget this closing section). Clever way to end, on a sound resembling such a memorable version of such a well-known carol).

Overall – On the whole, a passable background filler, but with enough experimental variation and clear emotional energy to make it memorable. So it’s never gonna win any prizes for its uplifting quality, but no one expects that in sludge/doom productions anyway. Not unless you happen to be Down. Or Electric Wizard. Or Kyuss. You get the gist. Anyway, a largely reasonable listen, with a few hints of intrigue thrown in.

7/10 *******

Self-Released 24th November 2017.

For fans of generic doom, sludge and early Sabbath.

Posted September 18, 2017 by jennytate in Uncategorized

3 responses to “Pale Horseman – ‘The Fourth Seal’

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