Tuesday 21 May 2013

Review: A Pale Horse Named Death - 'Lay My Soul To Waste'

'Lay My Soul To Waste' 

A Pale Horse Named Death, the brain trust of Sal Abruscato – the former man behind the drums to legendary New York metal bands Type O Negative and Life Of Agony – threw the world a major curve ball with the début album, 'And Death Will Follow Me'. Blending Type O Negative-esque melancholic doom with the southern-tinged grunge of Alice In Chains and a liberal help of NOLA sludge for good measure, APHND put Sal on the map as a songwriter in his own right. Now he's back with a full band and a new set of world weary and horror inspired songs in the form of 'Lay My Soul To Waste'. But will the Brooklyn, New York natives' sophomore offering live up to the post Peter Steele resonance of the début?

The short answer is yes. A Pale Horse Named Death has come a long way as a band both technically and in terms of performance quality. Sal hasn't been precious, and the contributions from the rest of the band give this album a fuller sound. In terms of songwriting, the band's core sound of Type O Negative's self-loathing aggression filtered through the opiate haze of Alice In Chains remains intact. But it all feels a lot more self-assured this time around, especially with the keyboard elements being used to greater effect.

Songs like 'Shallow Grave', 'The Needle In You', 'Growing Old', 'Devil With A Smile' and 'Day Of The Storm' all show off the diverse range of ways that Sal and Co. can achieve their end goal of crafting dark, heavy music. It's slow, hard, demented and bleak. But the use of harmonised vocals, acoustic guitar and keyboards keep things interesting and strangely approachable. Yet the album's true appeal can be summed-up in the track, 'Cold Dark Mourning'. Much like 'Die Alone' on the previous album, it's sheer emotional gravitas doesn't relinquish its hold until the final bars have faded to silence.

It is evident that the band have taken their time to create a truly memorable album. Sal has upped his game significantly in terms of songwriting with 'Lay My Soul To Waste'. And while this album doesn't have that initial pleasant shock of the first, which left many people wondering why he hadn't started A Pale Horse Named Death a long time ago. It does however, feel more well rounded and comfortable than its predecessor. The end result of which is a feeling that Sal and APHND are fast cementing their legacy as a band to be reckoned with.

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