A really solid debut here from ex-members of the short-lived punk band Bars, who also have some more recognizable Massachusetts metal and hardcore pedigree in the form of The Red Chord and American Nightmare members. As you could probably tell from the evil-word/equine moniker (see also Palehorse and Warhorse), we are dealing with a band firmly in the stoner metal echelon, though Dead Horse might also be a good reference being that Bloodhorse feeds from a smorgasboard of influences within the subgenre to come up with something singularly recognizable as their own. The Pike-worshipping vocals, especially at the start of the album as well as some of the riffs, make Sleep/High on Fire an obvious comparison, but Horizoner is the type of album which is all the more appealing for the fact that the sum of the parts defies an easy pigeon-holing.

“A Good Son” emerges from the sludge into a toe-tapping “Children of the Grave” style rocker, and “A Passing Thought to the Contrary” is quick on it’s heels with a rousing and riveting refrain before the band takes it home with an unprecedented exercise in Slayer-esque stoner rave-up. Bassist/Vocalist Matt Woods has a strong voice and helps drive the arrangements with some nimble work on his four strings. Despite my earlier comparison, his true voice emerges at times, usually during the choruses, and while untrained, has a passionate and heartfelt quality. More than any of that, he happens to produce a relative rarity in modern heavy music, a lyric sheet worth following along with, so some major props there too.

Oddly enough for a band of this style, they maintain a relatively high velocity throughout the record and those speedier songs, particularly the one-two punch in the middle of the album that is “Close, But Never So” and “Aphoristic” are the clear highlights here. Adam Wentworth’s guitar works from the basic stoner template but he can thrash and rage with the best of them, drummer Alex Garcia-Riviera never seems to get spooked by the schizoid tempo and mood changes either. The bands ability to go from Sabbath and slower to Motorhead and faster while keeping things cohesive and compelling is a tribute to the member’s experience and maturity as songwriters. However I wouldn’t be too upset if they ditched the slow stuff altogether as it is in those moments that the group can come off a bit generic and tedious. Overall, however, very impressive stuff with quite a few certifiably great songs, those singled out above for praise among others on the album. Due their blending of influences, this band should appeal to fans of a wide-variety of strains of dank metal and sludgy hardcore, particularly hybrids of the two such as Kylesa and Baroness.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by John Gnesin
July 10th, 2009


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