Horseback – Half Blood

For all the great and easily accessible straightforward albums which appear every month sometimes one wants and needs to be stretched and asked questions of. “Half Blood” the new album from North Carolina band Horseback is one such release, a testing imaginative and evocative creation which works the senses and emotions.
Horseback is the creation of guitarist, vocalist, and producer Jenks Miller and follows on from his previous acclaimed albums including “Forbidden Planet” and “The Invisible Mountain”.
Miller transcends genres with his music to conjure up a storm of drone, doom, black metal, psychedelic rock, and more, his albums and individual tracks an emotive journey to challenge and invoke deep reactions. Though “Half Blood” is not an album which gives an instant easy pull it is as welcoming as it needs to be, mesmerising the ear and thoughts before leading them into its skilled and stunning heart. The album is like a fire, from an initial spark it builds and grows into a consuming and emotively fired experience.
Released through Relapse Records “Half Blood” is in the words of Miller “a meditation on hybridity, impurity and evolution”, its breath themed by mythology, hermeticism and western mystical traditions. It offers a blend of intrusive and caressing opposites in sound and light for an overall fluid and meditative experience. At times the music scrapes across the senses whilst at other times it leads them through a harsh darkness into enveloping abrasive warmth, the experience never less than hypnotic.
The album opens with the irresistible ‘Mithras’. The song is an immediate beckoning with its muscular bass and warm keys but proves a deeper addiction once a darkened pulse and dissident energy begins to prowl with menace behind the seventies progressive toned groove.
From the opener the album only finds richer depths and satisfaction with the likes of the heated atmospheric ‘Ahriman’ with its excellent drone groove underlining waves of strong melodies and stoner tones, and the heavily resonated ‘Ajuna’ lighting up the senses. These songs all follow a ‘regular’ structure to some extent but the album truly finds its heights with the unpredictable ingenuity of ‘Inheritance (The Changeling)’ and the closing trio of tracks under the umbrella title ‘Hallucigenia’, all captivating and enthralling despite openly intrusive and startling sounds, their caustic cleansing deeply pleasing.
Though “Half Blood” is not the easiest experience the concentrated effort it demands brings nothing but fully rewarding and deep experiences. (8/10) 

Pete RingMaster 

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