Things have changed drastically for Horehound since their 2016 debut. Traces of that album can still be heard in the Pentagram-esque guitar tone and the ethereal vocals of Holocene, but on this album the band uses these elements in a much more haunting fashion. The atmosphere is darker, the songs are much longer, and the structures build up the riffs without giving into stoner post rock madness. I find it comparable to Witchkiss’s debut album, though the two groups likely draw from differing pools of influence.
The band dynamic is strong despite dropping a guitarist and switching bassists. The guitar never feels like it’s playing for two despite the dense production; the riffs and leads are chunky without getting too bare bones and the bass pulls its own weight with some cool effects for good measure on moments like the start of “L’appel du Vide.” The vocals are also great, boasting a mysterious character like that of Chelsea Wolfe or Johanna Sadonis without getting lost in the mix and injecting the occasional growl.
With that chemistry in mind, the songwriting is also smooth. Tracks do admittedly run together at times, but well written riffs and winding structures ensure their memorability. “Dier’s Dirge” makes a strong impression, but the best stuff may be in the middle; “L’appel du Vide” features a spacey Shrinebuilder-style buildup while “The Sloth” (Sadly not a Saint Vitus cover) has an almost mantra quality. “Highball” also does a good job of closing the album with its most straightforward riff set.
Overall, Horehound comes into their own with a strong sophomore album. While it may take some listens to get a feel for the longer-form songwriting, it is nice to see the group use these atmospherics without getting too self-indulgent. It’s the sort of album that must be heard to full completion in a dark room, a thunderstorm not mandatory but highly encouraged. Strongly recommended to those who like their doom extra grungy.
“L’appel du Vide”