Half Blood is a new genre splicing Relapse release from surrealist metal wizard Jenks Miller, AKA Horseback.
Mixing together a cocktail of metal sub-genres that you never would have thought possible, North Carolinas finest metal merchant(s) ‘Horseback’ have proved that with a little imagination, some dark surrealist imagery, and a shit load of talent, essences of drone, black-metal, doom, post-rock and noise can be brought together to make a beautiful, nightmarish listening experience.
Brainchild of ‘Horseback’s sole band member Jenks Miller, ‘Half Blood’ is a collection of dream-like soundscapes, grim bleakness, and horrifying white noise. Utilising various influences, visions and ideas to seamlessly meld varying aspects of heavy metal, the band seem to thrive off their continuous loops of psychedelic guitar melodies, mythical lyrical content and drowsy post-rock sensibilities, and this makes for a comfortable, almost warm musical journey into total darkness.
‘Mithras’, ‘Ahriman’ and ‘Arjuna’ are all tracks that follow the same general song structure, with dreamy guitar riffs intertwining and corresponding with each other, as solid, progressive bass lines clamber above to support the droning drum rhythms and Miller’s black-metal growls. Admittedly it’s hard not to find yourself zoning out from time to time as everything slowly progresses, with no huge changes in song structure or general sound, these tracks will surround your mind and take you somewhere else without much effort.
Then there are the much more experimental efforts such as ‘Inheritance (The Changeling)’, and the three-part dreamscape that is ‘Hallucigenia’ I, II & III. These tracks play heavily on post-rock progressions, extremely lo-fi ambience, and a big old bunch of white noise, to build on the more beautiful, more abstract side of the ‘Half Blood’ album. As simple as these quieter, subtler moments are, they feel completely welcome and natural amidst the surrounding distorted guitars and grizzly vocals, and really add to the fantastical element of the albums concept.
So if you think you can handle a blend of varying musical genres without being put off by one aspect or another, then ‘Horseback’ will succeed in giving you the euphoric experience intended whilst listening to ‘Half Blood’. Not really a straightforward metal act, ‘Horseback’ will take you to a place in heavy music that you weren’t sure you would find, and to the bands advantage, this works almost seamlessly.
I will admit on the first listen it’s easy to put the collective droning sounds and continuous instrumental loops down, and if you listen to ‘Half Blood’ in the wrong state of mind it will probably be a difficult listen. But what ‘Horseback’ seem to do with ease, is lull you into a sense of warmth and natural progression, to the point where you do lose yourself in the whirling environments of sound that they create, and after another listen you’ll be kicking yourself for not hearing this album sooner.