American death metallers, Horrendous, have released their fourth studio album called Idol. Idol was released via Season of Mist globally on the 28th of September and follows their 2015 release, Anareta.
Horrendous are were originally 3 members but added a permanent 4th in 2016. On vocals and guitars we have both Matt Knox and Damian Herring. On drums it is Jamie Knox and on the bass, the newest member, is Alex Kulick.
Horrendous play death metal. On the progressive side of things. They have been releasing music since around 2009 with their very well received demo, Sweet Blasphemies. Their first full length, called The Chills, came out in 2012 and was followed up by Ecdysis. Both albums scored highly with a lot of critics before a few more negative reviews started creeping in for Anareta. Plenty of people loved it but plenty of people felt like they were holding back. Needing to really let loose and go for the jugular.
Well, Idol is their chance to do just that, I guess, and win over any doubters. There are 8 tracks, and around 40 minutes, of music on Idol for us to get stuck in to. The album opens with a short instrumental of sorts called Prescience. It is around 90 seconds long and is made up of atmospherics and a few loose hanging bass notes and guitar twangs. Idol kicks off proper with track 2, Soothsayer. If you don’t know much about Horrendous, and I don’t, Soothsayer really epitomises their sound for me. Horrendous are a band full of ideas and are certainly not scared of packing them all into a single song like Soothsayer. We get crunching riffs and blasting drum patterns. The vocals are rough and raspy and there are some excellent moments of shredding soloing to get your ears into.
All wonderful elements on their own but they don’t always sit well in the song. I find some of the progressive elements to be a little distracting. Some of the transitions are a little rough and the occasional off beat drums patterns are mostly interesting but occasionally disorientating. This happens on quite a bit of Idol actually. There is so much good metal on offer but little moments here and there that throw me off. Songs like Golgothan Tongues bring solid, crunchy riffs and creative drum rhythms. Melodic lead guitars jump in and out of the sing, adding a little flourish here and there while the vocals stay raspy throughout. It is a good song with an interesting structure.
Divine Anhedonia is similar in that it is good, just not brilliant. I love the intro to it. Big guitar twangs left to fade while the drums play a marching beat. The stop start style is intriguing for the first 30 seconds but starts to bore after a minute and a half. When it does kick in you get some thick, bass heavy riffs and more well placed higher toned guitar lines. Devotion (Bloof for Ink) chucks a little more into the mix with a mid song slow down to melodic guitars and clean singing before building back up to a frenetic, energetic ending.
The album ends with a double header of Threnody followed by Obulus. Threnody sets the scene and is a 2 and a half minute instrumental with clear and clean ringing melodic guitars. It doesn’t lead seamlessly into the grand finale. There is a gap. It does work well in setting Obulus up though. Obulus is a song I do really like. At over 8 and a half minutes, it is a long song but I guess you need time to fit all these ideas in. Being so long, I was expecting a lot of slow downs and build ups but actually Obulus is relatively reserved in comparison to some of the rest of the album. It stays heavy throughout, instead just transitioning well between different drum rhythms and riffs. There are some really catchy beats here and a couple fantastic solos to end the album on a high note.
Unpredictable, creative, loads of ideas, occasionally confused – all things that could fairly be used to describe Idol, in my opinion. It is a strange album. Almost a conundrum to me where I like and dislike something at the same time. They are obviously a talented and creative bunch. That goes without saying. Some of the riffs and solos in particular are phenomenal. I do find it all comes across a little disjointed in places. Some of the transitions in songs aren’t quite perfectly fitted so you notice the sudden switch in tempo or beat and some of the rhythms just aren’t that captivating to start with.
Vocally, I think the band also have a bit of a weakness. They cleverly mask it a bit by having the vocal mix sit right back within the instruments but you can hear that neither Matt Know or Damian Herring are brilliant. They have a rough edge to them but lack any real power or depth.
With all those complaints, you may think Idol is a bad album but it isn’t. There are some strong songs on here. Obulus in particular and most of, if not all, of the others have moments of merit. It just doesn’t quite flow as a complete album. In Obulus, I felt they held back a little and while there are progressive elements, it isn’t saturated. Interestingly I also found that to be my favourite song on the album. Perhaps that is my problem, not progressive enough maybe? Either way, I think Horrendous should be creative but don’t need to go over the top and they may have a more complete sound. Less would be more, in this instance.
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You can have a listen to Idol now on all the usual streaming platforms like Apple Music and Spotify. You can also grab a physical copy from Season of Mist, here or their Bandcamp page, here. Find out more about Horrendous at their Facebook and Instagram pages for more information on them and their music.
Idol by Horrendous (Season of Mist)
The Final Score - 6/10