Horseburner – Thief

Ripple Music is one of those labels, that you can pretty much buy all their albums without hearing them, and they are just going to be strong from start to finish. They have a great roster and one of the newest additions for 2019 is Horseburner! They do not burn horses and in fact, are sweet dudes from what we gather. Their music, however, gives no quarter at all: punishing the ears and the soul. Rising from West Virginia, these guys get their Stoner Rock and Trad influences on without being derivative or sacrificing that base instinct to rock. On Thief, Horseburner establishes themselves as a major future creative force.

Starting and closing with the intro/outro of ‘Thief’ and its spiritual sister ‘Thiefsong’, the ability to craft gorgeous, inspiring motifs definitely perks your brain up. The bands’ trademark is its rifftastic songs, full of head-nodding beats that make the little hairs on the back of your neck stand up. The crushing licks of ‘A Joyless King’ starts the journey for the rest of the album. Lovely twin guitar leads, sweeping melodic passages, crushing drums, and tasteful bass guitars, and the shouted, but tuneful singing and thoughtful lyrics definitely catch you off guard. Every song on Thief is bathed in memorable riffs salads, but nothing is over-played or feels like wankery.

Showing that they know their music history, they are far from a meat and potatoes Stoner band. The occasional dip into thrash like on ‘Drowning Blvd’, the clever licks that open ‘The Fisherman’s View’, the near Entombed-core dropping into mellowness of lead single ‘Hand of Gold Man of Stone’ jibes with our initial theorem that this band cares about songcraft more than just caving our heads in with chops.

Late album track ‘Fathoms’ is definitely one of best songs on here and certainly my favorite. The unison singing and the attacking chords will call to mind some sweet early Melvins tracks. Sure, many a band has worshiped at the altar of King Buzzo, but the diversity here is something few bands can pull off, and often much older bands too such as more recent efforts to switch it up like COC or Clutch.

There is a lot of unpack with this album and it will definitely take a few listens to feel like you can absorb it all. Most definitely a grower that will have you come for the great guitars, but stay fro the songwriting and lyrics. This one is not leaving the playlist for a while.

8 / 10

KEITH CHAHCKES