Over the years, there have been sludge/stoner bands I liked – or at least appreciated. But on the whole, I had enough at a very early stage. There are SO MANY of those bands! “We worship Black Sabbath”, “We mix doom and dirty retro rock”, “We play the dirtiest, most heavy sludge music”, etc. Yeah, sure, I’ve heard that a thousand times over the past ten years. We ALL worship Black Sabbath, goddammit, even those who won’t admit it! You probably wouldn’t visit this site if you didn’t worship at least one of the incarnations of Sabbath.
A particular aversion of mine is the myriad of sludge or stoner bands who simply scream or yell their way through an album. Stop it! It hurts! Do something intelligent instead, please.
Despite my general annoyance with the genre, I can see that there are some glimpses of excellence on the sludge horizon (as there are in any genre of metal and hard rock). Helhorse is one such glimpse of excellence.
This is certainly sludgy stoner rock, but it is also more, and it is the kind of more I crave in sludge bands.
The Black Sabbath factor is high in the sense that the six-piece from Copenhagen also have that primal, down-tuned guitar sound and a powerful bass. So far, so good.
What the attentive listener will notice is that the influences of Helhorse aren’t limited to Sabbath, but also to hardcore, metal, good old rock, as well as an element of something, which I believe was called ‘desert rock’ back in the 90s. It was very much inspired by Nick Cave.
I dare say that Helhorse would only be half as listen-worthy as they are if it hadn’t been for the dual vocal effort of singers Mikkel and Aske. The interplay between the two provide the extra layer that makes this release a multi-facetted work of art compared to the output of so many other bands of this genre. Aske mainly provides the desperate, screaming vocal, whereas Mikkel contributes with the crooning, almost hymnal vocal, thereby bridging into the 90s style I mentioned before.
It could be that my positive approach to this the third album by Helhorse is also influenced by the fact that I saw the band live a couple of weeks ago. It was an awesome experience. Almost overwhelming. ‘Helhorse’ (the album) is not overwhelming – it’s simply groovy, multi-facetted, powerful and excellent.
01. Carry Your Own
02. Among the Wolves
03. Fortune Favors The Bold
04. Interlude I
05. The Blood Boiler
06. Hell Of A Ride
07. Interlude II
08. Raise The Black Flag
09. Interlude III
10. My Haven Your Hell
11. No Fucks Given
Playing time: 37 minutes
Release date: 15th of May, 2016
Label: Spinefarm Records