Saturday 9 December 2017

Pale Horseman - The Fourth Seal (Album Review)

Release date: December 08th 2017. Label: Self Released. Format: CD/DD

The Fourth Seal - Tracklisting

1.Final War 06:25
2.Witches Will Gather 05:50
3.Aokigahara 06:45
4.Bereavement 08:46
5.Gnashing Of Teeth 05:43
6.Forlorn Extinction 04:37
7.Pale Rider 07:08
8.Tyrant 05:33
9.Phantasmal Voice 07:43


Eric Ondo, Rich Cygan, Jason Schryver, Andre Almaraz


Even though I'm huge fan of Baroness and Mastodon, I'm willing to admit I miss their earlier albums heavy progressive sludge riffs before they abandoned that sound for a more commercial based sound. This is why I'm thankful for bands such as Pale Horseman who have taken up the mantle of creating highly complex and progressive sludge metal sounds.

Now four albums into their career, the band return with The Fourth Seal. A heavy complex and highly intelligent journey that has a lot of soulful psychedelic grooves that allows the band to have a more threatening presence compared to their other albums.

Opening track - Final War - has a thrash metal groove with the band channelling early Metallica especially with the thrash paced guitars and pitch perfect vocals. The progressive sludge element of the album is the main focus here as Pale Horseman manages to sound like a direct threat to the more established bands within the Progressive Sludge Metal scene. It's good to hear Pale Horseman change the mood of the album so early on. As they'll happily be playing a Thrash Metal sound before switching to a more soulful psychedelic riff. The majority of the songs held on the album run from six to nine minutes in length. With this being a progressive sounding album, Pale Horseman includes a lot of interesting ideas in both the music and lyrics held within the album.

The next three songs on the album: Witches Will Gather, Aokigahera and Bereavement - are perhaps the standout moments of the album. As the sounds of Witches Will Gather and Bereavement have a strong balance of Thrash, Progressive, Sludge and Psychedelic vibes that leave you pressing the rewind button for more enlightenment and even punishment. The production is another highlight of the album. As the album feels dynamic and fresh from the very start. The instrumental work is LOUD and throws you right into the centre of the action. You feel that Pale Horseman is playing right in front of you. So top marks on the production side of things.

Other songs on the album that I was impressed with were Pale Rider and Phantasmal Voice as the band expertly switch genres yet again whilst still delivering a true "underground" Progressive Sludge Metal experience. If you feel let down by the current studio outputs of Baroness and Mastodon. You need to experience Pale Horseman for yourselves. Some people may feel the album maybe slightly too long in parts. Though that feeling will go away within time. As there is a lot of music to digest and fully understand here. So please give this album repeated listens before making your final decision.

The album also has its fair share of Doom and Gloom parts. As The Fourth Seal has a creepy narrative that becomes even more threatening when the band slow things down and play gloomy soundscapes against a progressive thrash/sludge metal backdrop. The Fourth Seal is perhaps Pale Horseman's most complete album to date. As the album feels more focused and perhaps fully realized compared to their earlier albums.

The Fourth Seal is one of those albums why you fell in love with Heavy Metal music in the first place. You want an album that is challenging and extremely heavy from the start. Well look no further, Pale Horseman is here to answer your prayers....

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Curtis at Dewar PR for the promo.