Night Horse – [Album]

Friday, 26 September 2008

Everybody that’s partial to rock n’ roll has a memory of the first time that the music crept up and made a devotee out of them. Years ago, you might have been a passing fan or daytime dabbler and enjoyed the music, but didn’t really know all that much about it and, if asked, probably couldn’t pick out one particular favorite song. Then a record came along, punched you in the gut and made you a slave to the rock; from that moment on, you find yourself buying, stealing and poring over magazines, learning the history and the trivia, you probably started a band in high school, grew your hair long or dyed it bizarre colors and wore headphones so regularly they appeared to be extensions of your body. For me, it happened when I first heard “When The Levee Breaks” by Led Zeppelin. I was eight and it hit me so hard I was knocked over. I’d heard rock n’ roll and liked it okay before that, but in that moment—between Bonham’s drums and Page’s droning guitar—it was love. I was a fan and, from that moment forward, I was off to every corner of the musical map because I wanted to hear it all.

Why do I mention this? Why would you care? Because in all the time since, I’ve listened to a tremendous amount of music and while I’ve gotten excited about some of it, I’ve never again had that levee-breaking epiphany again. Not until I heard “Don’t Need Your Lovin’” from The Dark Won’t Hide You.

In the opening build up of “Don’t Need…,” as muddy electric guitars roil and drums get legs under the song and start to move, anyone listening knows that something wicked their way comes. Pupils dilate, the little hairs on the back of your neck stand at attention and goosebumps overtakes your forearms; it’s big and dark and exciting and ominous and it’s coming.

And then singer Sam Velde simultaneously opens his mouth and the doors of perception.

Ripping pages from the books of Led Zeppelin, The Doors and Black Sabbath, Night Horse plots an unstoppable course straight to the heart of classic rock in the six majestic tracks that comprise the band’s Tee Pee Records debut, The Dark Won’t Hide You. Unlike so many other bands that go out of their way to sing the praises of the aforementioned groups while still remaining sonically entrenched in the pop idiom (The Parlor Mob and Keane leap to mind), Night Horse puts its’ money when its’ mouth is as guitarists Justin Muranga and Greg Buensuceso ignore fashionable brevity; none of these six tracks falls below the four-and-a-half-minute mark, and most have hard stops included to indicate movements or progressions. Instead, they favor constructing statuesque riffs and then jamming around them to color and create expansive landscapes with said riff as the focal point. For his part, Velde also invokes the ghosts of every classic rock singer you’ve ever loved by flat-out refusing to hold anything back; in songs like “Wicked Love,” “Worried Life Blues” and the title track, the singer teeters on the edge of total abandon while the band cajoles and pushes him closer to the brink. His performances are that much better for it too; the closer he gets, the more overwhelming his voice becomes until by “Shine On Me” he’s virtually yowling his demons out on tape and pulling listeners into lifelong fandom in the process.

In the most critical terms, Night Horse is really only in the same position as groups like Parlor Mob as far as simply recreating the vintage vibes of classic rock royalty, but this band’s ace in the hole is that there is no professional bent to The Dark Won’t Hide You. Rather, Night Horse’s debut is dominated by the sound and aesthetic of a band racing to hook as many devotees as possible before the whole shithouse goes up in flames. One listen will be enough to do it too; mothers, if you don’t want to put up with a lifelong rock addict, don’t tell your children about or let them anywhere near The Dark Won’t Hide You because they will be lost to you forever with just one exposure.


Night Horse – The Dark Won't Hide You will be released on October 21st. Reserve it on Amazon.

Comments are closed.