I’ve seen a lot of press regarding Horrendous’ new CD Idol (released September 28, 2018). They certainly earn a cool point for the wicked cover art – it’s HR Giger plus Dalvador Dali for me.
The opening track is a bass-filled tone poem with atmospheric synths and sound effects, reminiscent of the opening of a film. “Soothsayer” shows us dual, panned guitars, death metal riffs, and vocals of which Chuch Schuldiner would be proud.
Remember the first time you tried some exotic cuisine and you weren’t quite sure whether you liked it or not but kept eating it in hopes you’d eventually get to liking it? That’s how I feel about these vocals. I’m not a huge fan of the shrieked death metal option. But in this case, perseverance pays off because this is not a one-trick pony as far as vocals go. Matt Knox (guitars) and Danian Herring (guitars, keys) both offer various ways of delivering the lyrics, throwing in clean singing and harmonies now and again.
The rhythm section of Alex Kulick on bass (fretless, perhaps?) and Jamie Knox (drums) is super tight on track 4 “Golgothan Tongues” and the bass is mixed up front so we are able to enjoy Kulick’s excellent performance. The balance between staccato riffs and ringing chords is effective in keeping the ears awake and attentive. There is space for melodies to breathe which is appreciated.
The drum sound is live and fresh. After an interesting off-kilter melodic opening, “Divine Anhedonia” breaks out the blast beats and since that trope is sparingly used on this CD, it is welcome. There is an out of left field coda to this track and my brain keeps telling me “go listen to Watchtower, old Cynic and Death.”
And then I listen to “Devotion (Blood for Ink) and the Cynic influence intensifies with clean guitar and vocals but the death metal riffage (adds “riffage” to Word dictionary) is not gone for long.
Unaccompanied clean guitars cleanse the palate on “Threnody” which leads into the longest track on Idol called “Obolus.” I didn’t think I’d be thinking about early Katatonia at this point but the clean vocals behind the shrieks have done just that. There are riffs constructed in a way that remind me of early Fates Warning.
Most metal fans who listens to Idol will be able to both identify multiple influences and appreciate how Horrendous is more than just a band mimicking their heroes. This can be classified as progressive death metal because there is more than just blast beats and guttural vocals. All the cheesy review “greater than the sum of its parts” clichés aside, I’m impressed and my expectations were exceeded by Horrendous.
- The Idolater
- Golgothan Tongues
- Divine Anhedonia
- Devotion (Blood for Ink)
Label: Season of Mist