As far as heavy music is concerned, there are several active bands — like, say, Trivium — that take themselves way too seriously. Other bands just aren't serious enough. And then there's experimental-metalcore outfit Horse the Band.
Last month, in a press release regarding the June 26 release of their forthcoming album A Natural Death, the members of Horse the Band described the LP as an examination of "the futility and arrogance of creation and destruction, the overwhelming scale of space and time, and the brutal majesty of nature, the horror of birth and the beauty of death." The band hopes the set might serve as "a warning to the human race, to stop taking itself so seriously, as we have seen the dire consequences of its actions in the future."
Supposedly, Horse the Band "consists of five demigods, running from a haunted past they can't possibly remember." Of course, this is just shtick. After all, these are the same guys that, while tracking A Natural Death, launched a YouTube channel through which they intended to post a series of in-the-studio videos, updating fans on the recording process. But in no time, the channel was transformed into a forum for the band to post episodes of its own drama, "Lawrence and Friends" — the show revolves around a love triangle involving a sugar cube, a suicidal pencil and, inexplicably, singer/songwriter Carla Hassett.
This is a band led by a man named Nathan Winneke — who, as it just so happens, has a destructive alter ego named General Beam.
"He's like Jim Beam in my clothing, essentially," the singer said. "I flipped out for the first half of our tour with Heavy Heavy Low Low [back in March], and I destroyed their trailer, which is sad, because I really like those guys. But I lost a little control, and I caved in their entire roof while telling everybody it was science, and then I took a fish-scaling knife and cut a triangle in my arm. I was just being a total idiot, but when the General comes, I have no explanations."
Horse the Band, who've made a name for themselves touring with like-minded metallers the Dillinger Escape Plan and Hella, are heavy metal's version of "Airplane." The band's sound is a spastic, brutal mix of metal, fused with synth-produced blips and bleeps, and inspired by the video games of the 1980s and early '90s. The band's music is crafted to not only scramble your brains but tickle your funny bone.
For example, there's a track on A Natural Death called "Murder" that Horse the Band added to their set while on a recent headlining run with the Number Twelve Looks Like You and Light This City.
"The kids have been loving it," Winneke enthused. "I tell them it's a song about killing white people, and they go crazy." The lyrics were written from the perspective of an American Indian in 1847, "So it's OK."
Horse the Band began writing for A Natural Death — which also includes "His Purple Majesty," "Sex Raptor" and "I Think We Are Both Suffering From the Same Crushing Metaphysical Crisis" — back in the fall and finished recording it in February. The band took its time with the follow-up to 2005's The Mechanical Hand and the 2006 EP Pizza — which, yes, was a concept piece all about pizza.
"With Mechanical Hand, Koch [the band's label] was relaunching [the now-defunct] Combat Records, and we did it as fast as we possibly could, because they wanted to have an album to put out on Combat at the time of the relaunch," Winneke said. Combat folded again, and Horse the Band have since been absorbed by Koch.
"We're the heaviest band on the roster," Winneke said. "They did the soundtrack to the Barbie movies, and I loved those. They have a wide array of stuff, and we're the heaviest band I know of."
On A Natural Death, fans can expect more layers of sound, the frontman said. The band has incorporated more synth elements into its sound, and keyboardist Erik Engstrom found "this programming game ... where you can write tracks on the Game Boy, using sounds from the Game Boy, so this record has an extra, extra retro-awesomeness to it." Winneke added that, "If you thought we were chaotic before, we're, like, probably doubly chaotic now — in stranger and more unique ways, hopefully."
So, what does Winneke think of his own band? "We're very reckless and immature and have no idea what we're doing, and we should probably break up as a band, because all we're going to end up doing is killing ourselves," he said. "But hopefully, it will be funny."
The rest of the week's metal news:
Pyromaniacs and German-language students take note: Rammstein will unleash three different versions of their DVD and CD package "Völkerball" on July 17. All versions will feature a full 2005 concert recorded in Nimes, France, plus select footage from shows in London, Tokyo and Moscow. The standard two-disc set features a 140-minute DVD and a 75-minute CD of the concert. The special edition also features a second DVD with 90 minutes of content, including the documentary films "Reise, Reise: The Making of the Album" and "Anakonda Im Netz" (Anaconda in the Net). Finally, the limited edition includes a 190-page tour photo book, which contains everything in the three-disc set plus an additional CD capturing the remainder of the 140-minute France show. ... Dutch pagan black-metal band Grimm will release their new album, Heksenkringen, Tuesday. Tracks include "Witte Ruiter," "Als Wederganger Dwalend" and "Van Drakenbloed Fel." ...
Three songs from Paradise Lost's upcoming album In Requiem — "Never For the Damned," "Ash & Debris" and "The Enemy" — are available on an e-card that can be found right here. The e-card also features the video for "The Enemy," which was shot by Ukrainian director Edward 209 in March on the Crimean peninsula in Yalta. In Requiem is scheduled for release June 5. ... Messy Peruvian black-metal band Goat Semen will release the live album En Vivo en Lima Hell May 8. The disc includes "Sodom Graves," "Madre Muerte," "Rotten Messiah" and "At Luzbel's Behest," as well as bonus rehearsal material. ...
For the first time in years, there's a reason to look forward to September 11. On that date, death-metal veterans Obituary will release their yet-untitled new album. The follow-up to 2005's Frozen in Time will also be the band's first for Candlelight Records. Obituary are currently hard at work on the disc and scheduled to complete tracking by June 1. "We are really looking forward to having a record company that wants to work with us," singer John Tardy said in a statement. "We feel rejuvenated, and this new album is gonna be sick." "This will mark a new chapter in death-metal history," bassist Frank Watkins added. Obituary will launch a U.S. headline tour the week the album is released. ... Voivod have finished the video for "Polaroids." The clip was created with Banger Productions and Ottoblix and includes some of drummer Michel "Away" Langevin's artwork. The same team is also working on a video for "The X-Stream." According to a recent update by Langevin, the band will start recording the follow-up to 2006's Katorz in the fall. ...
Technical Florida death-metal band Atheist, which reunited last year for a batch of reunion shows, are calling it quits for good. On Friday (April 27) and Saturday, the band will play two dates in its home state. The coup de grace will come at an unscheduled final show in New York. "It's very hard to just walk away from this music that is having its day in the sun," guitarist/singer Kelly Shaefer said in a statement. "The shows keep getting better. But the best and most important thing to us has been the outpouring of brand new people who have embraced our music. We will wrap this all up with one final show in New York that will be filmed for a DVD." ... Seattle noisemongers Himsa have entered the studio to start recording their fourth album. The band will track the drums, bass and guitars with Steve Carter. Strapping Young Lad's Devin Townsend will track vocals and Tue Madsen will handle mixing duties. The disc is tentatively scheduled for a late August release. ... Three noteworthy underground-metal albums are coming on Candlelight on May 22: New York metal vets Pro-Pain will release Age of Tyranny - The Tenth Crusade, Octavia Sperati will unleash Grace Submerged, and Carnal Forge will test their fans' mettle with Testify for My Victims.