Horse Head


The hallucinatory, Kyuss-ian chords that entrance “Destroyer Television,” the EP opener of Phoenix, Arizona doom lords Horse Head and their debut release The Missionary may be one of the all-time great red herrings.  Aw, what a gracious melody…so inviting, relaxing and warm that it’s like good sex meets a fifth of whiskey…and then planes fall outta the fucking sky, the desert sun catches nuclear fire and every single creature in a 3,000 mile radius is evaporated into thin air.  The riffs turn to pure brutal sludge with a head-bangable groove as the rhythms coagulate into a familiar rhythmic stink that’s the equivalent to a pig rollin’ around in cowshit.  It’s Sabbath-y enough to catch your attention, though pleasantly Iron Monkey minded in terms of dung tossing pleasure.

Bassist/vocalist Chris Gisriel’s repugnantly low vomits and shrill, ball-clamped screams are of the rotten grindcore variety and the band tosses back n’ forth like a ship on turbulent waters between pristine stoner psychedelia and cum bathin’ sludge while never forgetting the bluesy groove.  Hell, late game they even unleash a blackened guitar arpeggio pounded into place by Andrew Parker’s controlled, molten blast beats…And then I found out that “Destroyer Television” is actually the album ender and not the first track…FUCK!  Still, it made such a first impression that I don’t dare to change the review, so please reorder this write-up mentally for me.

Proper lead-in number “Missionary” is an infectious fuzzy groove supported with a spray of all over the place percussive fire and guitarist Wilson Hensleigh’s varied chord abuse which ranges from drippy drug melodies, ugly hard-up hard rock riffs, burdened Sabbath bends and dirty noise-leads.  While working in a rather traditional format, Horse Head doesn’t abide by the rules and gleefully opens up the manual to page 1 and pisses all over the table of contents.  Those vocals are extra sick and really add some vitriol to the overall forcefulness of the band’s fetid fart cloud of a sound.

“Red-eyed Angel” chugs away at a sludgy thrash progression and hobbled, broken ankle punk speed-up before tumbling down a hill of doom to imminent death below.  Once the groove kicks in it never stops moving, warping and melting into different permutations of its original form.  The press sheet wasn’t lying with the Unsane references as the white-wash leads and solos have that Chris Spencer pinch to ‘em for certain.  At 2:43 Gisriel slides into a Geezer Butler blues slink that rises up into a monstrous 70s riff with an appropriately tripped out lead ladled like gravy on top of this bloody raw portion of sinewy sludge.  Hessian thrash runs throughout the relatively complex riffs that introduce “Whiskey and Blood,” before the sludge/grind gruel drowns the relative speed thrills without a trace in a whirlpool of sucking doom swing complete with scraping, Hendrix on PCP noise-soloing that gives a proud tip of the hat to the mighty Dave Chandler.

Only 4 songs all told here, but goddamn if they ain’t all motherfuckers.  Anyone into the filth-fuck side of slovenly doom metal should absolutely pick this up and keep an eye on this band till the end of days.  These guys really push the style into some aggressive territory and the grind, thrash and black metal influences are used in just the right amounts.  Alongside William English’s Basic Human Error, this is your go to hate-sludge release for 2015.  Get on it my sleazy brethren!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
September 22nd, 2015


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