April opted to bring in a Korg MS-20 monosynth to keep things heavy. What has come out if it is a sound akin to the catchy swing of Eagles of Death Metal, with some serious slide guitar action and vocals nodding to a Nick Cave influence on April’s part. Their live shows thus far have inspired nose bleeds, spilt beer and mystery bruises. They seem to be doing what American rock has been working at for decades- bridging the gap between its blues roots and rock and roll. Black Horse formed in the spring of 2004 when Brooklyn-based Seattle-transplants April Goettle (vocals, guitar, synth) and AP Schroder (vocals, guitar, programming) consolidated their musical endeavors into a duo.
Tired of sharing members with other bands who were erratically on tour, thus keeping them in a constant holding pattern, Black Horse emerged as the communion of Goettle, Schroder and a drum machine, pounding out a wall of bleak and blackened rock and roll dirges that marry the scrape of industrial rhythms and distortion with a strong and womanly edge. On their debut full-length, The Black Arts of Black Horse, Goettle’s vocalizations don’t position her as an antagonist as much as they cast her as a sturdy front woman; a feminist to be sure, friend or foe you decide. She’s a songwriter who understands the balance of language from the brain, the heart and the guts, and the subtle shades with which each one can add grit and color to the others. All of this is underscored by Schroder’s unwavering rhythms that are programmed into the drum machine and ground to bits under an impenetrable duel-guitar traipse. Each song is a capsule of discomfort, confrontation and catharsis, streamlined and put on display as aggressive pop fodder. Goettle has stated, “If you're going to bother writing lyrics you want people to hear, they should be worth listening to,” and she has held herself to a strict standard of songwriting that strikes with visceral and challenging tenacity. The Black Arts… wanders through a terrain of noisy metal riffs and mechanical rhythms under a slow burn of fuzz, melody and undeniable hooks.
Think Big Black, the Jesus and Mary Chain circa Psychocandy, Wire’s earliest days, Black Sabbath, PJ Harvey and Texas Chainsaw Massacre soundtrack and you’re in the right neighborhood; and it’s a scary one at that. Goettle and Schroder have constructed a decidedly lo-fi beast with The Black Arts… One in which the noise and tension that swells between every note and every intentional sound carries just as much weight in the music as everything else. The album’s opening number, “Shake Shake Shake” is an apocalyptic strip-club banger that is both sleazy and sultry in its worship of riff and strut that is at turns sexy and ominous, captivating and daunting. And as the crash of “Lapdance Technician” grinds forward, the album’s doom-laden atmosphere takes shape. “Hey Sailor” offers brief moment of reflection as Goettle croons over longing, heartbreak and the consequences of bad behavior. But the high-end skulk of steel strings and drum machine miasma only serves to pull the song back into the heat of anxiety and aggression. This brand of high-energy, high release pace is at the core of Black Horse’s mad dash into the dark side.
As such The Black Arts of Black Horse is a disquieting affair; on that strikes below the belt and above and directly to the brain, and will grab young feminists and metal heads alike. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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