Spook The Horses’ new album Empty Body is due for release on August 28th on Pelagic Records.
New Zealand based, delightfully named, post-metal sextet Spook the Horses are due to release their new album Empty Body – a work that leans towards the heavier and more metallic end of their historically diverse repertoire. There is something pleasing about the aesthetic of this album, the cover reminds me of some low-grade fighting games for the Sega Mega Drive and is in keeping with the visuals of the video they’ve released for the last track on the album ‘Inheritance’. It all speaks of some virtual nightmare or synthetic hallucination. Despite this unusual theme, the music itself is appealingly simple – it is no more complex than it needs to be. Because of this, you can really hear every twist and turn that the band takes. Each element is perfectly audible, and the combination of each element makes for a coherent, powerful and clear overall sound greater than the sum of the parts.
The choices taken in terms of chord and melody progression tend to be in favour of anxiety and dread production. This is done without being too twisted, harsh or discordant – the notes selected carry with them an ominous sense of unease. The album can be decidedly heavy, fast and powerful when it chooses to be, but it doesn’t overplay these cards, and so these passages are always welcome and impactful. At the same time, there are few breaks and little to no melodious bridges, and so the pace remains constant throughout – keeping up an intensity that never becomes too much.
The album neither pushes too hard nor lets up too much and so it retains its momentum throughout – carrying at all times a gruff, driving negative feeling that many will be drawn to. Overall, this album is respectable for its simplicity, constancy and veracity. It seems to be produced to the right level, sounding excellent but without sacrificing its sense of reality or its raw presence. It is a well-balanced album which delivers a complete picture of what this band is at this time.
Some people might complain that there is not a terrible amount of variety between tracks, but variety doesn’t seem to be the name of this album’s game. It is true that there aren’t many landmarks to pick the tracks apart with, but there is enough variety within each track to keep the album interesting, and the consistency between tracks contributes to the overarching experience of the album. It is not a complex album, but this is part of its appeal to me. The simplicity creates a spaciousness within which the band can cultivate some truly impactful moments. The simplicity allows for clarity, allowing the audiophile to truly appreciate some of the musical passages.
All told, this is a well-crafted, intelligently produced and unpretentious album that is likely to please fans of the genre. It is heavy and unforgiving without being over-bearing or exhausting. There are no bells or whistles designed to bedazzle listeners and distract from any inadequacies on the part of the band. All is there to hear and all can be heard, and what can be heard is certainly very good. It will not take you long to figure out whether this album is for you – if it is, you are in for a treat.
Order the album via Pelagic Records.