No country has ever grabbed my attention more than Australia, as it is there that many brilliant tunes started to emerge. “Clagg” and “Adrift for Days” have so far been proudly sitting in the top ten list of my favorite bands, with cosmic vibes of the latter perfectly complementing the sludgy riffs of the former. However, it was not until the discovery of Horsehunter that I realized there was place for one more, not only matching the mentioned bands in terms of quality and sound, but also to some extent giving them a back seat.
Nothing in the world demands more attention than a band that simply sounds huge, and no adjective more aptly or concisely describes Horsehunter. Once the openings seconds of “Stoned to Death” punish your ears with massive, downturned to ferocious degree and gargantuan riffs, all doubts regarding the quality of the final product are immediately dispelled. Not only do you realize that you are in for a long, catchy and simply heavy ride, but give it a chance to go for numerous spins unlike anything you have ever heard before. No really, Horsehunter’s blend of Clagg-inspired sludge, heavy doom and some slight touches of stoner rock create a poisonous cauldron that will keep your ears attached to the speakers for a huge number of spins.
Album’s Opener, “Stoner to Death” is my personal favorite here, with its heaviness still resonating in my eardrum. No really, what these folks have achieved is a top-quality piece of work. Starting with calm, psychedelic vibes, it quickly evolves into catchy and lead-heavy sludge, with repetitive riffs paving its way through any obstacles. It reaches the climax of heaviness from around 3:00, with thick, plodding riffs leaving to mercy to anything standing on their way. Some short stoner rock solos water the mixture down here and there, but the whole picture remains intact with the total pace becoming faster as the song progresses further. It slows down closer towards the end, justifying every moment with more atmospheric, but still insanely heavy wall of sound wisely mixed with psychedelic solos and Sleep-like vocals.
Caged in Flesh, the second track of the album is nothing short of the quality of the opener, but is inferior in terms of originality. Starting with somewhat catchy, groovy sludge-doom riffs, the track delivers exactly what you would expect from top-quality sludge-doom band, with guitars delivering long, drawn-out chord progressions with catchy drums keeping you mesmerized throughout the first 3 minutes of the song. It is on this moment that things get really SLOW, with catchy, Sourvein-styled riffs giving way to slow, almost motionless comatose madness. Riffs pick up the pace as the track lurches forward, rewarding the listener with top-quality sludge-doom dominated by with massive guitar sound totally filling the soundscape. Heavily distorted guitars, accompanied by downbeat drums set the foundation for the remainder of the song, keeping you energized until the last seconds of this 12-minute monster. Nice song, but not even near close to the perfection of album’s opener.
Anyway, to say that Horsehunter have produced a great album would be an underestimation. They have delivered one of the best albums in the genre, which could have been even better were it not for the mediocrity of the second track. With thick, juicy sound, tailored to the needs of all sludge enthusiasts, “Caged in Flesh” is a solid addition to the Australian pantheon.
(Review by Den)