Pittsburgh has been a pretty solid, low-key player on the doom scene ever since Dream Death first coined the term “sludge metal” by blending doom and thrash in the 80’s. Continuing the tradition of bands like Penance, Argus and Brimstone Coven, Horehound is currently shopping its second album, Holoscene, to like-minded labels.
This six-track, 44-minute effort kicks off on a sombre note with “The Kind,” a nearly nine-minute dirge that throws several time changes into the mix. Beginning with a lone, longing classical guitar, before a heavy doom riff rises about 90-seconds in, along with a male-female vocal tradeoff. The song slows to a stop just past the four-minute mark, before a Sleepy bass line comes in, accompanied by some Neurosis-style drumming, followed by a seriously head-nodding heavy riff. A soaring female vocal marks a lighter passage as the song comes to a close.
“Dier’s Dirge” takes a similarly winding path, with a softer, mellow verse that sounds pretty soothing… until they hit you with a heavy, pounding riff around the 2:30 mark, only to return to the soft verse about a minute later. This only makes the next wave of heavy riffs more impactful when it hits more than five minutes in. “L’appel du vide” is a pretty solid spacey sludge jam, sort of a cross between Jex Thoth and Zoroaster—although, as far as I can tell, the lyrics aren’t in French. “Sloth” marries eerie doom riffs with sickly sweet, haunting vocals, while the creeping verses of “Anastatica” remind me of Blood Ceremony, culminating in a very traditional doomy chorus.
The album ends on a softer note, with the plaintive, longing, almost gothic “Highball,” which concludes with a series of soaring vocalizations that will likely stay with you for many minutes afterwards.