Formed after, and thanks to, the end of legendary band Type O Negative, due to the unfortunate death of band mastermind, singer, and bassist Peter Steele, sludge/doom metal band A Pale Horse Named Death released their sophomore offering “Lay My Soul to Waste” earlier this year. This album shows growing maturity and marked improvement compared to its predecessor. This album is a fully realized sludgy, depressing doom metal album that is sure to satisfy those craving some music to bring them down.
Aesthetically, regarding the music, and lyrically A Pale Horse Named Death feels very similar to Type O Negative. Both the drummer and singer/guitarist of APHND are former drummers of Type O. The fuzzy guitar tone found on “Lay My Soul to Waste” certainly is reminiscent of the sounds found on Type O Negative records. Lyrically this band is very bleak, sorrowful, and depressing. This is doom metal for a reason. Tracks “In the Sleeping Death”, “Growing Old”, “Dead of Winter”, and “Cold Dark Mourning” are perfect examples of this lyrical content. These also happen to be standout tracks, so check ’em out.
When it comes to timbre of the voice of APHND and the writing style of the music, “Lay My Soul to Waste” is very reminiscent of Alice in Chains, if not a little heavier. The grooving riffs, shredding, bluesy fantastic solos, and melodic cleans could certainly fit right in on an Alice in Chains album and if they have need to replace Jerry Cantrell or that other dude whose name I don’t know, this is where they should turn. The singing on this album does sometimes differ from the Alice in Chains like style and drifts into the screaming/yelling or harsher singing. But for the most part APHND sounds a lot like Alice in Chains vocally, droning rather than soaring, playing with simple melodies rather than powerful vocals. This style really fits the lyrical content, plenty focused on death and sorrow. This music doesn’t need a power metal singer ya know?
A few key songs on the album feature a cool tremolo effect on the guitars during important sections of the songs, including introductions and verses. This little feature really grabs me in. It’s different for certain; you definitely don’t see many other bands writing a verse riff that is lathered in tremolo. Look at that one song by Green Day everyone knows, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”. That’s the perfect example of this effect, Green Day sounds awful melancholic on that track, partially thanks to that introduction. A Pale Horse Named Death conjures this feeling, to a much more prominent effect, and creates an atmosphere of doom reminiscent of attending the funeral of a good friend. This just so happens to be the topic of the lyrics for the closing track “Cold Dark Mourning” which also features this tremolo effect. Another song that uses the effect prominently to good effect is “In the Sleeping Death”. Once again, check out these tracks.
“Lay My Soul to Waste” comes in three doses of doom. A Pale Horse Named Death brings to the table three types of songs; rocking, mid-paced, sludgy cuts, middle of the road calmer, more melancholic tracks, and all out depressing, funeral, emotionally heavy monsters of doom. This album really is very diverse. Tracks like “Shallow Grave”, “Devil Came with a Smile”, “DMSLT” and “The Needle in You” feature the Alice in Chains like grooving riffs and melodies. These tracks a fast paced, for this album yet still pretty slow and heavier aesthetically. Some of these songs feature harsher vocals and blazing, bluesy solos. These songs honestly could fit right in on mainstream rock radio, just like the new Alice in Chains record is, yet don’t massively suck. Then there are the mid paced songs, these songs are a less rocking and more mood oriented. Acoustic, rhythm focused “Dead of Winter” is a fantastic track. Completely different from the rest of the record, this song has its own vibe that’s difficult to describe but it’s not fully depressing, but it’s certainly not happy, uplifting, or energetic in any way. Theatrical “Growing Old” is another cut that’s out of place in the best way. Changes of vibe are always welcome on albums like this. Too much doom or sludge rock can make the album tedious to listen to. “Lay My Soul to Waste” never gets close to tedious, partly due to solid song writing and partly due to some oddball songs. Last we have the monsters of doom. These are the most emotional, slowest paced and longest tracks on the album. These are “Day of the Storm” and “Cold Dark Mourning.” Lyrically these tracks deal with the death of millions, and the death of a very close friend respectively. The vibe is perfect for each of these tracks. “Day of the Storm” features overly distorted guitars playing slow, ominous melodies that sound foreboding, just like the lyrics. “Cold Dark Mourning” is cleaner guitar tone oriented. The tone of this song, simpler chord based writing, and slower simple vocal melodies really nail the sorrow filled, very personal vibe that is perfect for the song.
A Pale Horse Named Death’s second offering is absolutely fantastic. This album is essential listening. The best of Alice in Chains and some of the best parts of Type O Negative are slammed together for an album that really does not disappoint. Pick up this album and support the band. The guys write some music that really is a pretty fresh take on the sludge/doom genre. I can’t understand anyone who is a fan of the genre not enjoying this album. “Lay My Soul To Waste” gets a 9.5/10.