Deadhorse - We Can Create Our Own World // Album Review

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Review By Dan Nightingale

The opening of the album sets you up for some kind of epic experience, but at this point, you're not quite sure what. Swelling cymbals and strings rise up before plodding piano comes in, followed by deep drum rolls and cymbal embellishments. As guitars get dirtier, it reminds me of Do Make Say Think, but with a much thicker sound. The sound quickly rises to a peak with tremolo picked dirty guitars ala Mogwai or Mono. After a fade out, heavy drums are at the for-front, backed by piano and what sort of sounds like a bowed guitar. Heavy snare rolls usher in the orchestral chorus, which fills you with a sort of 'coming home' joy – it's a sound you've heard before, but it's well done and it's pleasing to the ear. Rapid snare drum marches give the end of the track a new life and a nice beat that's not often heard in this kind of music. A classic echoing fade out reprises piano and crackling vinyl sounds fool you into thinking you're listening to an old time Orchestra.

The next track, “Dreaming the Face of Disaster,” starts with a long feedback/bowed note and slowly moves into soundtrack-esq drums and more plodding piano, before thick guitar brings the track around to a faster, more rock oriented sound. More piano breaks down the track, and my only complaint is that it only seems to be able to play quarter notes, while the band (pianist included) is clearly quite capable of playing a wider palate of rhythms. Again great, unusual drums patterns bring a fresh sound to this track, which otherwise employs fairly standard post-rock techniques. The production and mixing is clean and tight, and all the instruments seem to be well balanced.

Snare drum marches usher in the shortest song on the album, “Exciles,” at only five and a half minutes. Grinding bass and more high, long guitar notes bring up the end after a long build up. It's shame that the band is looking for a new full time drummer at the moment, as the drumming on the album helps advance a lot of songs from slightly cliché to fresh sounding.

“Questions for Which There are no Answers” opens with menacing guitar ala Ennino Morricone Westerns. The piano holds down the framework again, which is good since the guitars never seem to descend below the 12th fret; due to lots of low piano, distorted guitars, and washy drums, it's hard to pick out the bass in many songs – when the guitars stop the deep,crunchy low end provides some great transitions, but it seems to be mostly absent in the louder parts of the songs. Distant, distorted percussion sounds like a fading war in the background, while the piano finally breaks out a more distinctive rhythm for a nice come down melody.


“Last Night of the Word” clocks in at nine and half minutes, and though there are severel distinct parts, the songs does drag a little in the middle, especially after the lengthy songs preceding it which showcase many of the same sounds. Typically it's becoming more and more common for bands in this style to break up albums with vocal pieces or electronica influenced sounds and songs. Many of today's new post rock bands seem to be content with staying in a purely 90's style mode, which worked fine when the idea was fresh and new, but one will notice that bands that have carried the style since the early 90's (Mogwai, Low, A Silver Mount Zion via Godspeed You Black Emperor!) have strongly diversified in newer albums by incorporating more recent trends into their music.

Deadhorse falls, in mind, in the category of many bands I have reviewed, that one ought not pass full judgment until one has seen them in a live context. In my review of The Gothenburg Address, another recent instrumental rock band from the UK, I pointed out that the sheer volume and intensity of the live performance was critical to this style of music, as the live show often offers more dynamic range and the chance for the expression of personal intensity.


The closing track, “The Long Rain,” reminds of a great deal of Explosions in the Sky, with that long, underwater sound, snare rolls, and tightly laced guitars, while the strings do the swell work – a nice reversal from the endless guitar swells of previous songs. Reverberant piano and guitars set up a long build while still sounding like the album's denouement. A last triumphant wave washes over the swelling strings, and I still, even at the end of the album, can't get over the fantastic deep drum sounds. The ending swell is like a cheerful wave and a sad farewell all at the same time, and it's an excellent closer that gives me goosebumps as it fades out with more wonderful distant percussion and suspenseful piano.


Overall these guys put a very strong album forward – the playing is tight, dynamic, and well composed. While at times they suffer from an overly uniform song structure (loud, quiet, loud) and there aren't a lot of new tricks added to the instrumental rock playbook, the sounds they use work for the songs and everything sounds sharp and clean. Again, it's a shame that we won't likely be seeing these guys live any time soon, as the live experience can really help shape the impression of the band, but they have a pretty extensive touring schedule, so if they're coming to a town near you, check it out and I can only imagine you'll be in for a fantastic evening of music.


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Check out Deadhorse on Myspace & Bandcamp

http://www.myspace.com/deadhorsepa
http://deadhorse.bandcamp.com/



TNaugler

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