Article By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway
Crushing. Pummeling. Obliteration. All of these provide an adequate beginning to just describing the sound that Chicago’s Pale Horseman emits.
That dense emission was most recently channeled outward upon the world with the band’s latest studio campaign, ‘The Fourth Seal‘. The nine-song slab of Windy City-born sludge was recorded, mixed, and mastered at Comatose Studio in Bradley, Illinois, by Dennis Pleckham of Bongripper, and then self-released by the band a mere handful of weeks ago.
I say sludge, but the truth is there is much more here than meets the eye… uh, beats the ear. Sure, the band exudes some thickly dense, slower-moving sonic massiveness, but things just do not end there.
With impacting elements of doom, death metal, and post-hardcore, Pale Horseman offset their brutality with abundant groove and even touches of periodic melody.
The guys, Eric Ondo (guitars & vocals), Andre Almaraz (guitars & vocals), Rich Cygan (bass), and Jason Schryver (drums), pride themselves on their smart utilization of their dual guitar and vocalist aspect. It works in such powerful ways too, with trade-offs in both departments, that is only augmented by the bludgeoning, rhythmic patterns propelling them.
Once you break [into] ‘The Fourth Seal‘, the outright severity of this music, as a whole, is relentless and scarring. Cuts like “Final War“, “Aokigahara“, and the smiting “Phantasmal Voice” are full-on exercises in aural punishment. Beating and battering you with riff-driven intensity and their gut-wrenched vocalizations.
Other stand-outs that demand you take notice are the morbidly heaving selections “Bereavement” and “Pale Rider“, but without question, my own favorite moments came with the following trio of downtuned tonnage: “Gnashing Of Teeth“, “Forlorn Extinction“, and “Tyrant“. Rife with skull-rupturing guitar riffs that seem to repetitiously render you a victim to their assault, while rutted with deep trenches of rhythms, there is no escape.
The magnificence of these songs, or hell, with this entire studio-based beat down, cannot be overstated. You can feel a palpable vibe of disdain, of audible ill will – if you will, and it is astoundingly enthralling.
You will find enjoyment in Pale Horseman‘s misanthropic commiseration captured on the catastrophic catalyst that is ‘The Fourth Seal‘.