While Chicago might be more known for progressive post-sludge (think Yakuza, Minsk, The Atlas Moth, et al), it’s nice to hear a band that still plays ‘er low ‘n slow, the way Kirk Windstein intended. This foursome, Pale Horseman, is serving us up a full hour of deep-fried southern sludge on their fourth full-length in five years.
The Fourth Seal starts off with a big heavy breakdown right off the bat on “Final War,” with vocals that would sound at home singing “All I Had (I Gave).” This one wouldn’t sound outta place on the last couple Crowbar records, put it that way. “Witches Will Gather” opens with a great, sludgy doom riff that oozes melancholy, ahead of a gritty verse driven by hoarse barked vocals. The chorus comes in on another bed of doomy, Crowbar-style double leads. They know their craft well.
The awkwardly titled “Aokigahara” is a bit more of a mid-paced hardcore stomp, but with more than a touch of gloom in the eerie breakdowns between verses. “Forlorn Extinction” also takes a more mid-tempo approach—a charming little ditty about the end of the world. The nine-minute “Bereavement” is about as mournful as its name implies, with soul-searing guttural vocals and downtuned riffage aplenty. There is no happiness here.
While it’s pretty clear who their primary influence is, these Horsemen are more than pale imitators. I’d love to see ‘em land an opening slot on the next Crowbar tour…