Horns of Moses
Self Titled Demo
posted on 7/2005 By:
Ah, demos. They have a certain je ne sais quoi about them; whether it’s the condenser-mic-in-a-basement recording, the generally shaky songwriting, the not-an-EP-but-not-an-LP running times, or the invariably low volume level, there is a certain awkward hopefulness imbued into most demo recordings, and Horns of Moses’ is no different. The band manages to sidestep the majority of the common recording gaffes that are indigenous to demos (‘cept the omnipresent not-loud-enough syndrome, of course), the band displays their youth and inexperience via a different route—the songwriting. Horns of Moses are walking a path here that has become very well-worn very quickly, and judging solely by this demo, the band does not yet possess the vigor or musicianship to distinguish themselves from their burgeoning multitude of peers.
Hailing from Tennessee, Horns of Moses attempt a style of slightly ‘core-inflected melodic metal that has become extremely familiar over the past several years, and unless you’ve been cryogenically frozen since 1994, the proceedings here will surprise you very little. Specific parallels for the band’s style include Shadows Fall and the most recent Beyond the Embrace, but without either troupe’s flair for technically dazzling guitar work. The added simplicity leaves Horns of Moses with a musical gap that they struggle to fill. Vocalist Daniel Bratton tries his damnedest, though, and the man possesses a refreshingly gritty thrash shout to go along with his Burton C. Bell-reminiscent clean vox. His powerful pipes anchor the band well during the more aggressive up-tempo riffing, and while they are no Darkane, they produce some mildly head-bobbing melodic thrash riffs, particularly on “Grindstone.” Of course, the band’s modern “new wave of American heavy metal” (uh oh) influences dictate that they throw in clean choruses to counterbalance the metal crunch from time to time, and on three out of the demo’s five tracks, they do. Unfortunately, said choruses do not emote with proper soaring grandeur; instead, they sort of slide past innocuously, failing both to aggravate and to stick in one’s head as they are clearly intended to. The scattered breakdowns suffer from a similar difficulty. Aside from the nod-inducing groove on the aforementioned “Grindstone,” they simply do not have the crushing power required for efficacy, and come off as chugga filler rather than moments of blood-boiling intensity. In fact, all of the non-speedy material on the demo comes off as decidedly flat, and it is clear that Horns of Moses are trying to approximate the sounds of their influences rather than employing them as points of reference. The results are, unsurprisingly, unimpressive.
It’s understood that metal is by nature a repetitive genre, but Horns of Moses really need to branch out a little here. They have neither the chops to imitate the heroes of their particular niche nor the energy to compensate for the absence, and the result is another band that makes no impact for better or worse at all. They don’t offend and they don’t impress; they’re simply there. Despite the band’s Myspace declaration that they do not settle for “clichés, compromise or mediocracy (sic),” they express not a whit of ingenuity on this demo. Hopefully Horns of Moses will produce a modicum of originality and improve their execution on future releases; if not, they will deservedly and noiselessly slide by into oblivion.
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