Hailing from New Zealand, Spook the Horses is a band mixing elements of hardcore with post-metal, and they most certainly do it well on their latest full-length, ‘Rainmaker’. Upon my first listening it was a little slow start and the album didn’t quite grab my attention until the third track, ‘Overburden’, came seeping in with its ambient choral-like vocals and the dark melodic harmonies of the guitars.
Followed by the crushingly heavy ‘Flood’, Spook the Horses start to show what they’re made of. These two tracks along with the epic closing track ‘Below Our Time’ where they even throw in some beautiful string arrangements, are to me the strong points of this album.
Spook the Horses is not exactly breaking new ground here, but I wouldn’t say that they are imitating other bands of this genre like Isis etc. At times, the heavy parts can be a little reminiscent of early Cult of Luna, but Spook the Horses have more of a hardcore edge to the heavier parts that gives them a different approach and makes them stand more out in a genre overcrowded with imitators.
They rather give a respectful nod to their influences than downright steal from them. They also have good use of varying vocals, from the belly growl, to hardcore shrieks, to more melodic and at times even harmonic parts. Some parts here and there can be somewhat repetitive from time to time, but the slow, spacey songs like ‘Overburden’ and ‘The Saint’ balances the album well as it could’ve been a bit overwhelming if it was all heavy tracks.
The overall sound is both heavy and clean, and a clean sound is important with all the textures and details painted by the three guitars. Not to mention the subtle synth/electronics works that help make it sound even bigger than what three guitars already do in terms of atmosphere and layering. From what I’ve gathered this is a self-released album, and I would thereby assume self-financed as well, but in terms of production quality this could just as easily be a major label release. Not that it really matters, but then at least more people would hear this record.
It took a couple of listens for me to really get into ‘Rainmaker’, but as I got more and more into it so much details revealed itself, making it a rewarding listening experience.