Label: Steamhammer / SPV
Release Date: May 21, 2013
A Pale Horse Named Death graces us with their newest full length, Lay My Soul To Waste, which marks as their second album effort. A Pale Horse Named Death features the former drummer of Type-O Negative, Sal Abruscato, as well as Seventh Void and Uranium 235 member, Matt Brown. The duo recently welcomed Speed Kill Hate bassist Dave Bizzigotti to the fold as well.
I had heard of this band before, but never really experienced their music. Well, I may have but I can’t quite recall, considering the number of bands sprouting all over the place. Nonetheless, I decided I’d give this album a few spins. From what I’ve heard, these guys were well regarded, with a decent following and apparently some great press behind their previous album, And Hell Will Follow Me. Seeing as how Sal used to be a member of Type-O Negative, I figured there would be some sort of influence of that with this. However, I was knocked around a bit when I heard a different influence, that of Alice In Chains.
Lay My Soul To Waste starts off with the title track, which barely spans past a minute. It contains a collection of ominous sounds, distressed whimpers, and just an overall dark energy that invades your ear. I do love albums that incorporate a sort of atmosphere with them, so this release was already showing some promise. “Shallow Grave” kicks off the grunge train and does well as being the true music track that reels you in. Sal, who traded in the drums for a mic, does well with the vocal work, and although the lyrics are simplistic, I find the phrasing and tone to work perfectly so far. The fret work (both bass and guitar) also contain the perfect grunge personality. Low enough to be considered of the genre, but it still flows well enough to be considered that of a rock flavor as well.
“The Needle In You” follows, and I really can’t help but feel a very strong Alice In Chains influence. I don’t mind this at all, as I really dig some of AIC’s work but I’m also feeling a bit uneasy that this release will end up being repetitive. The guitars dig deep, as always, and although the drums sound simplistic they fit very well. Sal digs deeper as well with his vocals, but not very much. The little grit and gruff in the vocals helps differentiate the music a little but he doesn’t seem to use it to its full potential.
“In The Sleeping Death” doesn’t deviate much from the previous formula. It isn’t a bad thing to stick with a formula that works and make improvements, but I feel like there just isn’t much deviation from the “standard” this band has been demonstrating. “Killer by Night” changes up the tempo a bit and puts more of that gruff in the voice, but I’m again starting to get tiresome of the record.
“Growing Old” comes in with some unique keys of sorts and somehow creates a vibe that is somewhat different from the previous half of the album. Maybe there is a sort of waning quality in the guitars that brings me back or it could be contrasting sounds adds some interest to the mix. Either way, I start to steer towards what this album is all about.
Enter the acoustic! “Dead Winter” takes away the digging guitar riffs and brings in a whole new atmosphere much like a live show or acoustic set in a studio. It seems that the album is one of those that slowly picks up right in the middle, instead of right off the bat. I’m not exactly agreeable with the way this album is being implemented but hey, I’m no musician either.
“Day of the Storm” comes in as the longest piece of the album and also acts as a reset button. As I said before, I’m not sure what these guys are trying to do, as it breaks the flow of the album for me. The rainy atmospheric introduction, followed by the monstrous guitars and the every glistening piano insertions just scream out “this should have been the first track of the album!” “Day of the Storm” ends up being one of the few tracks I can really get into.
I’m not saying this is a horrible album, I’m just saying that the consistency and flow just isn’t there. I’m cool with sounding like the greats as well, even if it is unintentional. A Pale Horse Named Death may appeal to those that really love grunge that puts a few twists and turns into it, but there just aren’t enough for me to put my whole mind into the entire span of it. Check out this album for sure, but don’t be surprised if you find a lot of it dragging its feet or having you scratching your head.