Artist: Hundred Headless Horsemen
Label: Inverse Records & Särö
Release Date: 21/05/2021
The band hail from Helsinki and formed in 2014, since which time they put out two EPs and now their debut full-length album. The band is Horseman IV (vocals and guitar), Horseman III (vocals and guitar), Horseman II (bass) and Horseman I (drums).
The band playa truly unique brand of progressive psychedelic death metal. I would compare their sound to another band to give you an indication of their style but honestly nobody comes to mind due to how unique their overall sound is. I guess if I had to pick someone, I would say Morbus Chron or Sweven due to their shared progressive and experimental elements. In the mix you’ll also find hints of black, stoner and sludge metal making this a truly varied release. It’s one of those albums where it’s hard to put into words exactly how it sounds and while I’ll try my best here you really need to listen to it to fully understand just how many boundaries the band ignore in regard to genre classifications and song writing limitations.
The album has a central theme/concept focusing on Apokalepsia which the band explain:
“Apokalepsia is a group of symptoms characterized by recurrent seizures. These episodes can vary from brief and nearly undetectable interludes to long periods of vigorous shaking, hyperventilation, suffocating despair and a failure to function in a world defined by its imminent devastation. Apokaleptic seizures have a tendency to recur. Many victims also describe vivid visual and auditory hallucinations during apokaleptic seizures. The journal entries of these formerly unknown cases tell much about the inner struggles of the victims.”
The band hope to express the feelings associated with this illness and these episodes by employing frequent time signature and overall style changes throughout the album. This is intended to create a sense of confusion and auditory hallucination in an attempt to somewhat imitate the illness. I would say that at the very least the band takes us on a journey into the unknown, one that explores areas seldom visited, or at least seldom visited simultaneously in one album.
Overall, the album is impeccably written, each song is a true work of art within itself, but when looked at collectively they make up a truly impressive album. While psychedelic death metal isn’t the most common genre, I always absolutely love it. Morbus Chron or Sweven have made some of the most captivating extreme music I’ve ever listened to and now HHH is looking to join them in that ranking. You will find some truly groovy, highly headbangable parts throughout the release too, be prepared to rock the hell out. It’s not every day that a band makes an album that is both a stimulating and challenging listen, as well as being groovy.
The guitar work alone on the release is some of the best I’ve heard in a while, shifting constantly between progressive death metal elements and spacey psychedelic parts. At many points both are featured simultaneously but it’s mostly a back and forth between the two. The chord progression and time signatures employed are simply fantastic and make for a truly memorable listen. The vocals are equally as unusual and shift between a harsh extreme metal style that sits between death and black metal and spacey clean sung vocals. The bass work on the album is also extremely varied and somewhat on the technical side of things. The drum work on the album also employs some truly unusual time signatures and rhythmic patterns helping to further elevate the album.
Overall, this was a fascinating listen and one that stood out as being truly unique. I almost let this release slip passed me but I’m extremely glad that I didn’t. This is my first time listening to the band and boy have they made an impression on me. If you like your death metal more on the experimental side of things, then please give this a listen and don’t sleep on it.
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