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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Horse The Band

The Mechanical Hand

Review by Travis Jensen

When I think of any of the bands that I’ve heard over the last 20 years, there are many that I like, but few that I’ve felt are innovative on developing their own, distinct style that sets them aside from the rest. Horse The Band is such a group. This California-based band (who have been friends since high school) have been blasting their way through the United States for the last several years, ripping it up in every town that is lucky enough to have them come through.

They've had a few CD's along the way already. With a new one due to hit the shelves at the end of August, they are definitely going full-bore with cranking out more music for all of you die-hard Horse junkies. The one that I’m talking about, though, is titled The Mechanical Hand. This is an album where the more you listen to it, the more you enjoy rocking out to it.

I’ve recently had the pleasure to see these guys live, and let me say that they are very energetic! Even more so, is the energy from the crowd, which the band seems to thrive on. This same energy is reflected in this particular CD with pounding guitar riffs, bass and drum lines, screeching vocals and let’s not forget the driving force of the killer keyboards.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Birdo
Eat your eggs! I really like the intro blast of drums followed by the screaming vocals. This sets the stage for what you are in for with the rest of the disc, as first impressions are the ones that always last. However, I’m not too sure if this was the right choice for the first song, as it doesn’t seem as powerful as some of the others. As the song continues and the changes come up, it does have a certain diversity that gives it the demented quality that makes you question the title and appreciate it even more.
A Million Exploding Suns
This seems like the part two for the first song, which appears to continue with the same powerful punch of drums, keyboards, bass and vocals. The way all are synced together is very impressive. When I read the lyrics, I wondered what the motivation or inspiration is - I see it as a dream. The last portion of the song seems to turn what could be a nightmare into something more passive because of the more soothing melodies.
Manateen
I think that the rhythmic techno-rock intro is a creative start to this song. The vocals kick in right away to carry you through the changes in the tune which become somewhat alternative in nature. Then the dissonant notes carry you back to something heavier, while still maintaining the integrity of the track. Slow, then very strong, these are the changes that give this song its musical diversity. The driving keyboards in the end are almost hypnotizing, yet are broken with short shrieks of vocals, making it a very alarming tune.
The House of Boo
I love the guitar grind and bass intro to this one, followed by the once again vocals that tie it together as a mosh-pit, neck-breaker. This song has sort of a different appeal to me in the sense that some parts seem like older metal that I grew up on. Combine this with the simplicity of the repetitive keyboard notes, and you have one hell of a song.
Heroes Die
Yes, it's an instrumental! The drum intro and special effects background score make this song somewhat monumental, kind of like what you have in a horror movie. This finally builds up to a very heavy intro to the number, as if you are being led to the gallows or to some other ultimate inevitable fate. As it continues, there are other background sounds that reinforce a small rhythmic terror.
Softer Sounds
I’ve always liked songs that start the vocals right away and this is such a piece. Heavy keys allow a strong vibe that is carried throughout the rest of the track. It’s not a screaming vibe, but one that seems to come from the soul with conviction and intensity. Again, another dissonant combination of notes gives this one an eerie feeling to it which seems to grow and intensify as it continues. The powerful vocals at the end are a triumphant conclusion to this tune. This may have been my selection for the opener.
Octopus on Fire
Guitar intros are always cool, and this one is no exception. That intro is followed by the keys that pave the way for yet another rocking tune. If you like the keys, then you’ll like this one, as the middle of the song has a cool solo that intensifies as it goes through different changes. The guitars are also reinforced again and seem to play tag with the keyboards several times.
Soaring Quails
This one is my favorite. I’m a fan of melodies, especially when they are something different and followed by a kick in the head like the rest of this song is. This is shorter than the rest, but rocks hard through to the end.
Taken By Vultures
Another bird title, this song is definitely one to thrash to, so break a neck! Although it may be for a very short period of time, you’ll really get into this as the frenzy will take over your body and turn you into a freak. All instruments in the band take part in this insane number that is broken with small spurts of keys and vocals. The break in the track is also a creative element that sets it aside from the rest of the CD.
A Rusty Glove
I think what I like the best about this one is how Nathan Winneke changes the vocals from more of a heavy style to somewhat of a controlled scream that is very intense. The keys again play a big role in the body of this song, which is carried by the vocals and the pounding rhythm to give it the driving punch that it needs. I also think that the guitars play a big role in the success of this piece, as the driving melodies and solo’s work together with the keyboards.
Sand
I’m not really sure what draws me to this song. Maybe it’s the keys. Maybe it’s the vocals. I used to play bass guitar so maybe that could be it! Whatever it is, I know that I like to replay it a couple of times when I get to this point on the disc. This is the tune that sounds really cool when played at a high volume in my car, and I suggest you do the same. [editor's note: Music Street Journal disavows any responsibility should a mishap ensue from such an activity. Only professional driver's should attempt this. Do not try this at home. Some restrictions apply. Offer not available in all states. Please include your ring size. And look at that shine!]
Lord Gold Throneroom
Yeah, I really like the background score to the intro of this one the same as you do! This is a very cool tune, and is probably a very close second to my favorite on the album. There are a couple of really cool guitar bridges in this one that compliment the keys very well.
The Black Hole
Vocals and keys fast and loud are what make this one cool. There are also some great special effects that turn this into sort of a metal song from outer space. Dissonant techno-metal, this is very innovative. The piano at the end is a nice touch as well! As the track ends, I think to myself that this is one hell of a CD and play it again!
 
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