Saturday 5 September 2015

Drowning Horse - Sheltering Sky (Album Review)

Release date: Oct 22nd 2015. Label: Art As Catharsis. Formats: DD/Vinyl

Sheltering Sky: Tracklisting

1. Dead River
2. Echoes
3. Cursed
4. Red Earth
5. The Barrow Stones 13:36
6. Black Waters
7. Dying Words
8. Sacrifice

Band Members:



Drowning Horse were an unknown entity to me a few months ago until they premièred one of the new songs from their soon to be released album – Sheltering Sky. I finally received their album to review and it literally blew my fucking mind. There's no way denying that Sheltering Sky is perhaps the heaviest album I've heard this year.

Drowning Horse continuous use of punishing drone riffs mixed with instances of Doom, Sludge, Crust and Post-Metal make Sheltering Sky one of the most emotionally involving and brutal experiences I've heard this year. Some people will say they've heard heavier albums than this but it's the way Drowning Horse deliver their music. Their brutal and unflinching in their approach. Even on some of the albums quieter drone based moments, there is still a sense of danger lurking behind every corner. The vocals drift between hardcore based death growls to the more eerie based chanting.

The music brings back memories of early Earth matched against Neurosis style ferocious Sludge/Post-Metal rhythms. The album is the perfect balance between light and dark. The Post-Rock interludes are dark as they're soaked in Drone based noises especially on the opening two tracks – Dead River and Echoes. Dead River opens with an epic drone metal riff before the guitars add a nightmarish presence. The vocals are etched in gloom and misery. Drowning Horse are here to bring your nightmares to life.

Second track – Echoes – is one of four epic songs on the album and this is where Drowning Horse show who they really are and it ain't a pretty picture. Long drawn out drone based noises with eerie chants soon give way to heavier pummelling sludge/post-metal guitar tones with the atmosphere turning quite sinister. Fans of Neurosis, Earth and Whitehorse will be in there element here. The album stays in this dark and violent tone for the full 75 minutes. If you're looking for an uplifting album, look elsewhere as Drowning Horse are the embodiment of sonic based torture.

Third Track – Cursed – is the albums longest track running at 17 minutes in length. It's another punishing exercise for Drowning Horse to test your limits with as the music draws inspiration from all corners of Sludge, Post-Metal, Drone, Doom and even Crust. It's a highly original offering as the band create delicate moments of calm against the heavier nightmarish riffs. It's possibly the stand-out track on the album but it's more of an endurance exercise for you to survive from.

On the shorter tracks such as Red Earth, Black Waters and Dying Worlds, Drowning Horse prove they're just as capable in creating heavy barren soundscapes as seen on the albums lengthier tracks. I would say the shorter tracks are possibly the more experimental as the band have less time as they create a more direct approach with their music. The shorter tracks have a slight BONG influence with the drone/doom movement lurking in the air. Though Drowning Horse add a more sinister approach to their music with the mix of death based growls and doomier guitars.

Closing track – Sacrifice – is another stand-out track on the album as Drowning Horse leave you with a sense of wanting more. It's a beautifully played and written track and a great way to end the album with. It's a final round of heavy pounding riffs that drift between calm and violent slabs of destructive noises.

The album sounds incredible from start to finish. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Sheltering Sky is my favourite album of 2015. It will end up as my No 1 album of 2015 as I don't think nothing is going to top this incredible experience. Sheltering Sky is a masterpiece Drowning Horse is a band we will be hearing a lot more from in the years to come.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Lachlan at Art As Catharsis for the promo. Sheltering Sky will be available to buy on DD/Vinyl from October 22nd 2015 via Art As Catharsis Records.