Sunday, 20 June 2010

Hunts & Wars and the Age of Aquarius

Known for their hyperbolic reviews small independent San Francisco store Aquarius Records has been a supporter of THB since the earliest days. Here's what they have to say about H&W...fucking shoegaze???
TENHORNEDBEAST Hunts & Wars (Cold Spring) cd 14.98 The return of UK based one man ritualistic doomdrone shamen Tenhornedbeast, and another collection of abject darkness, grim sonic mystery, folk flecked dronemusic and epic black ambience, and as in the past, things have definitely shifted during the extended period of silence between this new record and the last. The very first 10HB record we had heard, was recommended to us as "epic, sprawling primitive doom/drone" which at the time was all we needed to hear, and indeed, that's precisely what it was, but with each record, 10HB's sound mutated and morphed, into something new, not always super dramatic, more an ever evolving sonic darkness, definitely dronemusic, but not so much primitive, a more composed sort of doomy black ambience, a post industrial drift that definitely leaned more toward drone than doom, but also more toward industrial then metal, which makes sense that he's found a home on Cold Spring alongside Toroidh, Laibach, Nordvargr, Prurient, Von Thronstahl, Wicked King Wicker and the like.
And in fact, the first track here, the evocatively titled "Reaching For The Stars We Blind The Sky", finds the sound of Tenhornedbeast definitely moving even further in a sort of industrial direction. It begins like we would have expected, dark and mysterious, spaced out and shimmery, with keening high end drifts, underpinned by deep rumbles, muted downtuned guitar buzz, feedback, all the sounds gauzy and grey, until about halfway through the guitars begin to grind the riffs crumbling and distorted and the drums kick in, not a straight rhythm, and not really free either, a bit martial here and there, but they seem to wander and drift, stumbling through a bleak field of stretched out tones and layered streaks of howling feedback, slipping from minimal and spare to chaotic and aggressive and back again, a little bit doomy, but more like some blackened neo-folk.
A 12 minute jam that really could have stretched out to fill up the whole record. But instead, the rest of the disc drifts into deep, tranquil dronemusic, laced with birdsong and melancholic melodies drenched in reverb, downtuned bass thrum driven creeps, held aloft by skeletal percussion, and again swathed in blurred effects and layered drones, heavy sure, but more mesmerizing and trancelike, string laden neo-folk, with haunting slowed down samples and disembodied voices, clouds of cymbal shimmer, and grinding mechanical guitarscapes, with hypnotic machinelike rhythms, swirling minimal lullaby like interludes, and finally the 20 minute title track, slow glacial riffage pulled and stretched until the riffs becomes long layers of undulating low end, billowing distorted bass like some sort of sonic avalanche, everything washed out and almost shoegazey, instead of getting heavier and heavier, it gets more and more shimmery and fuzzy, booming gongs, swirling effects, all wound around a simple, downtuned bassline, a slowed down doomic anti-groove, that creeps and crawls and finally drifts into the ether. Gorgeous packaging, an exquisitely designed 6 panel digipack, all browns and golds and greys and metallic inks...

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