Horse The Band
The Mechanical Hand
posted on 10/2005 By:
I’ve gotta admit, I’m impressed. Though I’ve heard and enjoyed them before, I always regarded HORSE The Band as something of a gimmick. The musical concept behind this bunch of loons looks ridiculously kitschy on paper; a blend of metallic hardcore and 8-bit video game music is a clever idea, but seems far too irony-driven to ever amount to much more than a cheap chuckle. Somehow, though, HORSE The Band have far exceeded their theoretically minimal creative breathing space and produced something special. The Mechanical Hand is a valuable rarity amongst metalcore albums: an example of genuine creativity.
Upon initial listens, this album’s most prominent feature is (unsurprisingly) keyboardist Erik’s eminent presence. Far from a ‘gimmick’ instrument, the synths are consistently active from start to finish and are balanced evenly with the guitars in the mix. Guitarist David, for his part, does an admirable job of cranking out a diverse bunch of technical-but-melodic, slightly Shai Hulud-esque riffs while simultaneously leaving plenty of room for equally complex key work.
The songs themselves are an interesting lot. Almost universally fast and intricate, they’re stuffed with excellent parts that don’t always flow particularly well. It’s easy to lose track of what’s going on, but it’s pretty evident that the effect is deliberate; HORSE The Band is clearly more interested in creating a jarring melodic atmosphere than blowing the listener away with epic builds and towering climaxes, and the choppy transitions serve that purpose well.
But the really surprising feature of The Mechanical Hand isn’t the crafty guitar/key interplay or the chaotic song structure. What HORSE The Band has done here is taken an idea that shouldn’t have succeeded as anything more than a quick joke and forced their audience to take it seriously. They haven’t lost track of their irreverent sense of humor, mind; opener “Birdo” is an ode to the egg-spewing critter from Super Mario Bros. 2, and in “Taken By Vultures” vocalist Nathan prefaces a synth drone/breakdown by melodramatically commanding listeners to “masturbate to a single note.” But despite the knee-deep sarcasm and deliberately off-kilter style, HORSE The Band only come off as insincere when they want to. This band has somehow puzzled out a way to craft a collection of genuinely evocative moments from their sneering foundation, and thus succeed where the chug-by-numbers metalcore bands they so viciously parody have failed. The Mechanical Hand is an extremely innovative and eclectic effort from a fairly young band, and it should impress both metallic hardcore enthusiasts and those who are still convinced that the genre is utterly homogenous.
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