Thursday, March 10, 2011

New Band: A Pale Horse Named Death

After the horrifying news of the death of Type O Negative's bassist/singer, Peter Steele, the metal world has been reeling (both he and Dio within a couple of months will do that to you). The legendary gothic doom act left a void in the world that can't ever be adequately filled (I haven't heard anything official about a breakup, but without Steele's voice it'll never be the same). Stepping up to attempt the impossible is the new act, A Pale Horse Named Death, featuring ex-Type O Negative drummer Sal Abruscato on drums, guitar and lead vocals. It's not the same, not even close, but it helps

The word around the net is that A Pale Horse Named Death is a gothic doom band, I don't get this at all. There aren't any real heavy elements that I would call 'gothic,' there are sections, or certain passages ("Pill Head" comes kind of close), but nothing anywhere close to a genre-defining sound. And Hell Will Follow Me, besides having one of the best album titles I've heard this year, is a doom band through and through, with a few sections that move into a thrash direction ("Bath In My Blood (Schizophrenia In Me)" tackles this sound the best). I don't know if you'd call it crossover doom, or gothic-thrash-doom-medley (ok I'm reaching with that one), or whatever. I call it good, and that's all I need.

Abruscato also was in Life of Agony, which is another band that treads that gothic doom line, although this time with an industrial kick. I never really got into them, but I have heard a few of their albums and I can hear the similarities in sound between the man's acts. All three, ToN, LoA and APHND (kind of a shit acronym), have their moments of dark depressive and oppressive metal, and semi-upbeat sections as well.Type O Negative took the depression to an extreme, something Life of Agony found a little bit harder to do, with the industrial themes mixed in. For And Hell Will Follow Me, A Pale Horse Named Death does a really great job of mixing in the different sounds and influences (doom, thrash, rock 'n roll, goth), without getting too bogged down in any one specific direction.

The best songs are the ones devoted to drugs, "Heroin Train" and "Pill Head" are what I would call the singles of the album, that is if you can truly have a single within a doom album. "Cracks In The Walls" sounds a little bit like a slowed down, more metallic version of "Paint It Black" by The Rolling Stones. I'm not saying it's a cover or anything, but behind the lyrics there is a walking guitar line that is pretty much continual throughout the entire song; it's this lick that sounds similar."Serial Killer" I could see on the radio, although it is pretty damn dark (and has a boring as hell 2 minute outro). It just is simple enough and has the energy to climb up the charts - at least a little - if anyone ever gave it a chance.

A Pale Horse Named Death puts out a good sound and a good debut album. And Hell Will Follow Me is a good foray into metal music by any standards. It is experimental enough with it's sounds not to get dull, but not so excited as to venture into unsavory waters. It's no replacement for Type O Negative, but it's also not trying to be one. It just is some good tunes.

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