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Dead Horse - HORSECORE: AN UNRELATED STORY THAT'S TIME CONSUMING
Review: It seems paradoxical that dead horse unified multiple threads of the tradition that would become underground metal: the traversal of rock n roll to form a new style of music with a signature nihilism and esotericism. In the death-tinged thrash that is dead horse, elements of rock, country, jazz and blues coexist with blasting shreds of structure in fragmentary, chromatic and tonally anarchistic heaviness.
When dead horse first hit the scene, metal music was rising from the rock-n-roll excesses of the seventies, following hardcore music into a new extreme of alienated, dissonant, blasting sound. In turn, the thrash movement that unified metal and hardcore influenced a newer wave of bands such as Slayer, Possessed and Morbid Angel, who by 1988 had established what would become death metal.
Thrash migrated either into oblivion or into dead horse styled complexity, where songs are built from often contradicting and multithematic elements and are unified around the interaction of thematic riffing and coordinated melodic vocals that are equally sung as growled or shouted, hardcore style, in a better version of the James Hetfield "power male" vocal. (This is also felt in the lyrics, which use a postmodern metal metaphorology to express hardcore-styled political anarchism and metaphysical naturalism.)
Correspondingly, the resurgent rhythms of hardcore punk intermix with death metal riffs and speed metal styled bridges. Each song is distinct from all others, so that even a short detour through the land of one-minute blastrock trips can deliver enough coordinated complexity to re-create a state of mental clarity in the listener. HORSECORE fully delivers its alternating fury and randomness in just under a half hour with flair for inventiveness. In a radical departure from the genrifications of the time, lead guitar not only varies its tempo but its phrasing, often providing an almost narrative closure to the transfer between parts of a song.
As the album progresses it unleashes a horde of influences of varying relevance to musical development as a counterpoint to the boundary-shattering nihilistic savagery of Slayer-influenced thrash riffing, forming a clear view of both musical history and the different logic by which thrashing riff music works. Whatever its characteristics, the excellence of this album arises from the precision that confers emotion through intelligently crafted, sculptured epics which would be masterpieces in any genre.