Friday, September 2, 2011

The Horde - Thy Blackened Reign (2011)

Your band is called The Horde. This implies a certain multiplicity. A storm of hooves, hammers and blades. Legion. Naturally, it implies that you will be kicking the listener so hard in the ass that he or she will be coughing up rectum for weeks. Thy Blackened Reign, is thus, a bit of a bummer, because while the band performs with a modicum of violence and energy, in no way did I come out of this feeling the expected levels of trampled oppression that the album advertises through it's colorful, undead warlord and charging riders. In truth, the Iowa band's debut is a duly average mix of thrash, speed, and more notably, melodic death metal aesthetics that never seems to sink its hooks beneath the flesh, despite the general competence of its roster at their individual instruments.

A lot of straight, galloping melodies here that remind me of bands like 3 Inches of Blood, who essentially water down the Swedish melodic death sound of At the Gates, In Flames and so forth into a less inspiring medium with more stock, 80s melodic power metal bits hurled in for good measure. That said, The Horde is nowhere near so annoying. Instead of the contrived screeches and Tomas Lindberg snarls, frontman Duncan has a broader, gnarled rasp that he often mixes with another, more full-bodied hardcore vocal aesthetic ("Hell Beast of the Pale Frost" and a few others). Sort of like a cruder man's Carcass with street legs. Speaking of which, you'll also hear a lot of those tailing melodic riffs affixed to balls out rocking rhythms, circa Swansong, in fare like "Into War We Ride" or "Super Tusk". The drums are admittedly intense, and it seems the deeper into the album I traveled, the tracks would become more distinct and memorable.

With "Death Foretold" and the title track, I wasn't really feeling the material, but once you delve deeper into the charge, tracks like "War God" and "Vengeance for a King" have some satisfying dynamics, bolder classic metal melodies ala Iron Maiden or Omen, and the riffs just sick all that much more. Add to this the loud, crunch of the overall production, the thick and juicy bass lines, and you come up with some acceptable tracks that might have served better at the front end. Overall, though, I just didn't find Thy Blackened Reign all that compelling. The fantasy war lyrics splashed with a bit of Norse myth seem pretty typical, and I felt like the vocals and guitars didn't always mesh well enough. The Horde are certainly not bad at what they do, and they can and do commit a few headbanging frenzies here, but it comes across as a mere bloody nose when it might damn well have been a stampede of muscle, pestling your bones into dust.

Verdict: Indifference [6/10]

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