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Warhorse | As Heaven Turns to Ash | review | stoner | rock | Lollipop


As Heaven Turns to Ash (Southern Lord)
by Craig Regala

DOOM, Doom, doom. Warhorse abstract the metallurgical European rootage farther from the post-blues rock that informed early Sabbath (as they created the form), Cathedral, St. Vitus, and recently, Sons of Otis and Sloth. They build a Gothicly melodramatic edifice of pensive, cleanly-picked intros to house walls of churning trudge and gritty, guttural, speak-singing. The words ally themselves with the music, setting the concept/theme if you will. That being doom, doom, doom. To chuck this in the Trouble, Sleep, Eyehategod, Crowbar, Electric Wizard corner is right and sensible - as the band themselves have noted. Warhorse's shifting and crushing, uh, tunes move forward on the struggling trudge groove so beloved by me and many other of the finest people. Enough melody/dynamic flavors the pulsing and pushing, which itself rolls along like a slow heartbeat rather than the dead crash/thud that informs so much of the "industrial" harshness of the past fifteen years. So the beats and rhythms carry the listener along as any good mantra does, groove not rut.

What keeps Warhorse in the rock parameter is the basic set-up of guitar, bass and drums as tools and, of course, their desire to be part of an expressive continuum and musical history, which is the right thing to do. To depart from this disrupts the continuity of the physical response to emotions and makes the music conceptual/ intellectual and henceforth useless in rock terms. Having no impulse to act as a revival or retro-band places them in contemporary history as more than entertainment. If a band is going to be "extreme," this is the way to do it. Or else the "extremism" can only terminate in a response to the audience or an idea (say as raw, modulated noise), rather than as rock music per say. That's okay if that's what you're after, but it's culturally groundless and derives its meaning elsewhere, as sound research, etcetera. Generally this is a shallow pursuit, all intellect and game-playing only functioning on the conscious level rather than the deeper subconscious where the music lives.
(PO Box 291967 Los Angeles, CA 90029)


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