Review: SPOOK THE HORSES – “Rainmaker”

Rainmaker cover art

New Zealand’s Spook the Horses have hit their stride with their second full-length album, Rainmaker. The sextet’s pairing of driving post-hardcore  and massive and emotive post-metal is fully realized on this 48-minute follow-up to 2011’s Brighter. In contrast to the sprawling, lengthy compositions of their aforementioned debut, Spook the Horses reduce the song lengths substantially on Rainmaker – providing more straight to the point tracks without sacrificing density and experimentation. The end result is an equally somber, beautiful and sonically devastating record that points to greater things in the future for this group.

Swelling guitar-generated sound opens up Rainmaker on the Neurosian dirge, “Footfall”. The instrumental tune slowly builds from clanging, chugging guitars and primal percussion to a procession of triumphant chords enveloped in ethereal atmospheres. The track bleeds directly into the seven-minute “Widening”, which begins with thunderous drumming and melodic, shimmering guitars. Sludgy bass lines and post-metal rhythms eventually walk hand-in-hand with echoing post-rock melodies that intertwine with each other. Throat-searing vocals finally make their appearance during the song’s bridge and initiates a final climax of atmospheric doom and gloom. The sullen “Overburden” follows next with  entrancing guitars and droning, specter-like vocals, all of which are draped in a veil of haunting soundscapes. A similar tactic is employed on the moody “The Saint”, but is more ambient and drone-based in its approach. Towering guitars open up the gargantuan “Flood” and proceed to stomp about like a very irritated giant. The track is nearly unrelenting its aural devastation, only briefly pausingits doomed assault for melodic guitar acrobatics and melancholic ambiance. Another bludgeoning sludge number is the album’s penultimate track, “Drought”. A bestial vocal line paves the way for leviathanic guitars to come crashing in, making the listener feel like they are trapped inside of a collapsing building. The song switches between angry death marches and sullen melancholic dirges throughout its duration, only to end with a reflective, bluesy coda. Angular melodies and propulsive rhythms open up “Saboteur”, which sounds like the angry lovechild of Quicksand and Pelican. Wavering melodies are interlaced between sludge-infused post-hardcore and intricate guitar work on this standout track. The saddened “Below Our Time” brings the album to its close. Clean guitars and vocals echo among an empty atmosphere as the band slowly builds the track into a wall of layered instrumentation and gorgeous strings.

Rainmaker is, without a doubt, Spook the Horses‘ crowning achievement to date. Their blend of post-hardcore nuances, post-rock, post-metal, sludge and doom is pulled off with such finesse. The record offers something unique and familiar that heavy music fans from all sides of the spectrum can find something worthwhile. Spook the Horses are definitely yet another act to watch out for.

AARating9
Rating: 9/10
Label: Independent
Release Date: February 2, 2015
Favorite Tracks: “Flood”, “Drought” and “Saboteur”
For Fans Of: Isis, Rosetta and Cult of Luna

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