At the tail end of last year and into the beginning of 2012 I started to make mental notes on bands that I dig that had announced release dates for new material. There were two or three releases in particular that piqued my interest more than usual. One of those bands was North Carolina's Horseback. I am happy to report that the juice was worth the squeeze.
Horseback is the mastermind of multi-instrumentalist Jenks Miller (who also, by the way, plays guitar in a phenomenal alt country/Americana act called Mount Moriah). This is their third release for Relapse Records, yet their first full length album's worth of entirely new material. For those not familiar with Horseback their sound is one of the more unique ones floating around the metal pantheon. There are elements of krautrock, doom, 60's/70's psychedelic rock and drone. There's also a snifter of "post black metal" which has been an ever growing player in the metal scene here in the States over the last decade. The music itself rides a fine, imaginary line between soothing and disturbing. The vocals (sans the one odd moment of clean vocals on the track "Arjuna") are brutal and esoteric, yet completely fitting for the music. As a point of reference they may be the musical equivalent of a Lars Von Trier film - simply stunning in all of it's composite beauty, yet can make you squeamishly uncomfortable if you let it. That's a good thing.
But this isn't just some band that takes a bunch of different influences and slaps them together in the hopes that they'll hit on something unique or just off center enough that kids will gravitate to it "just because". This is a band that creates carefully honed and crafted soundscapes that are meant to tell stories, not just with lyrics, but with each individual note that arises forth. Similar to bands like Neurosis or Acid Mother's Temple or Can, when you sit down to listen to this album you aren't just listening to songs. You are going on a musical journey of the highest order. A lot of positive stuff has been written about this band over the last couple years. I expect, off the stunning strength of this album that the trend will continue. Trust me when I say that all of the forthcoming praise will be well earned.