Album Review: Horseneck – Heavy Trip

What do you get when you blend Refused-like Screaming, the heavy riffs of Red Fang and the sweet grooves Queens of the Stone Age? You sprinkle a little Unida and a pinch of Clutch and throw in some organ for good measure and you’ve built the Frankenstein known as Horseneck. The quartet hail from Sacramento, CA and their credentials include previous work with Chelsea Wolfe and Will Haven. They are currently gearing up to self-release their album Heavy Trip slated for release on February 17th 2017.

The first track Bird Worried is immediately encapsulating as Horseneck introduce themselves by first playing us a catchy distorted riff before the rest of the band chime in, organ and all. This is heavy, yet groovy. Elegant soulful vocals entwine with screams on this mid-tempo juggernaut. The riffs fly at you until around the 2:30 mark where a sudden tempo change ups the ante, momentarily changing the dimension of the track focusing more on the darker soulful vocals before returning to the riffery to close out the track. We’re off to a good start here.

The next track the single Michael Caine, in their own words “is about the feeling you get after a hard party night. Like next level hard party night. When it doesn’t stop, and maybe you’ve made some horrible decisions, but you keep going and going and going.” This track feels fun like it was purpose designed for a good mosh. At around the 3 minute mark the band calms the storm with a bridge that feels like the hangover setting in, but it is rather the calm before another storm as the band close out once again pelting the listener with more rock n roll ferociousness.

P.A.G. follows up with a slightly bizarre detuned radio sample before bursting in with a head bang worthy riff. The slow chugging verses make for a more stoner-rock vibe on this track. Clean vocals are more prevalent in the next track Smokin’ Stacks which make for a nice touch of variety. The chorus and breakdown towards the end of the song expels any idea of the band going soft though. A more melancholy side to the band is demonstrated here which is then followed up with what with the down-tempo Hangman. Introduced with sombre trumpets, the verses are bluesy and show a completely different dynamic to the band. The chorus however will go to prove this band doesn’t believe in soft tracks or ballads.

What the previous tracks may have lacked in aggression Bobby Brown makes up for. This is all harsh vocals and heavy with an outro that sounds like utter chaos. No Gods begins a sequence of tracks with a hardcore punk feel. Containing one of the albums best breakdowns introducing yet another shift in tempo and feel – definitely a highlight of the album I might add.

If you thought it couldn’t get heavier, enter Lester Vitalis. At just over two minutes in length this belter up-tempo track feels like a full on nod to bands such as Refused and Converge. Whereas Basket of Snakes sounds like a tribute to Songs for the Deaf-era Queens of the Stone Age which is definitely a good thing. The band closes with Plow the Road. The hardcore punk has been replaced with a post-hardcore vibe, almost as if the band are giving us a history lesson in the progression of genres. A very suitable ending to what is a very suitably titled album – something that becomes very apparent after a listen.

Heavy Trip isn’t just a solid album but it feels like a statement of intent that rock n roll is still very much alive. Horseneck have expertly taken what they can from the bands that influenced them and wear those components like badges for all to see. The album is heavy, catchy and above all else it’s fun and a genuine pleasure to listen to. My only qualm that stops it being given full marks is what one could perceive to be an excessive use of harsh vocals. While some tracks wouldn’t have the right feel without them, there are one or two moments on the album where a cleaner approach might have been sufficient as the band certainly demonstrates they have that capability in their locker. Nevertheless this album could very well launch Horseneck in to the spotlight in 2017 and if that happens it will be very well-deserved. In any case they are a band to watch out for.

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