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Will Death Rides A Horse (DRaH from now on) be the next big metal music export from Denmark? This band, formed back in 2008, took their name from a movie. First I recalled a Hammer Films had a movie called that, but wrong, it was a western starring Lee Van Cleef.
This MCD is a reissue of September 2012 3-song tape release (via Deadbangers). Infernö Record's CD version includes DRaH's previous EP 'Pantokrator' (2010) as well as an exclusive bonus track. There's 58+ minutes of music here! It comes with beautiful stained glass artwork and almost every song's lyrics printed (they concentrate on mythologies and literature [H.P. Lovecraft and J.R.R. Tolkien]) on glossy paper. Looks very stylish indeed. As does the band's logo which reminds of, surprise surprise, old movies.
While being named after a western, the moods presented by the band here are just like from old horror movies, so Hammer Films was in a way the right bet from me. First up is the band's newest material. 'For Those about to Die' starts with similar vibes to a Runemagick song; ominous and ghastly, yet attacking. When the song goes on, there is clear Candlemass style doom tone, as well as headbangable Grand Magus-ish impression. Good classic and powerful heavy metal riffing (from NWOBHM to Accept) is abound. The title track brings in something new, that deepens the atmosphere: A calmer part with acoustic guitar playing. While the songs are rather long, from 6½ minutes to almost 11 minutes, the songs aren't complex, nor consist of that many parts. The compositions work, and one clear evidence about this is that, that they do not feel long at all. How do 11 minutes pass that fast?! The drums do what's suitable, meaning straight tempos or war-drum style tom drum utilizing work. The bass guitar playing is rather colourful, as one would expect in this kind of metal music. Female vocals are quite unique and into-the-point. If Doro would sing Danzig, maybe it would sound a bit like this. The production is thick and warm, organic. It could be heavier, though.
'Beyond the Granite Threshold' starts the 'Pantokrator' run. It's somewhat faster than 'Tree of Woe' material, but style-wise it is very similar. The song last between 5-9 minutes, so the band do not offer a fast way out. The title track shows the band's ability to pen atmospheric, story-telling songs. 'The Eye' presents well DRaH's sludge influences. I expected a lot from Scorpions cover 'Fly to the Rainbow', but maybe am just so used to Therion's take on it, that this left me a tad cold. The sound on these songs, minus the cover, is fairly muffled, but heavy.
The exclusive track, 'Dominion of Metal' starts with riffing, that is way more poodle hair thing than anything else on this release. Gladly, it knows how to metal on in a doomy way, too. Anyway, this one was dedicated to Accept. The song sounds like it was a demo recording, which it probably is.
All things considered, this release is a fine way to put out almost every recording made by DRaH. Well, I do not know what they still might have hidden in their vaults, and am missing their two-song debut demo from 2009. I believe the band will be noticed widely now, and get some credit they deserve. Heavy metal and doomy heavy metal addicts need to get their filthy hands on this one! Oh, and that Hammer Films flick I was thinking about was "The Devil Rides out"...
(Originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com)