HORSE the band, what can be said about a group who wrote an EP about pizza and then released it in packaging that resembled a pizza box? Well if their latest album "A Natural Death" is the topic, quite a bit. With an alleged concept that focuses on "the futility and arrogance of creation and destruction..." among other things, the weight of reality doesn't hang as heavy here as one would expect.
Instead, bolstered by new drummer Christopher Prophet, HORSE the band have increased their musical proficiency and their attention to detail, all while staying as irrelevant as ever with this release. Believe it or not, there are elements of stoner jams, doomy instrumental dirges and 80's new wave that are all given full room to shine amidst the shattered soundscape of grating antagonistic screamo.
With a gloriously 8-bit electronic repertoire, the band also pepper some of their harshest tracks, like "I Think We Are Both Suffering From The Same Crushing Metaphysical Crisis" with enough NES samples to entirely suspend the listeners disbelief. As odd as it seems though, HORSE the band aren't as goofy or as tongue in cheek as they used to be. The material here is surprisingly quite accomplished and while it's still a tad schizophrenic, lyrically colorful and endearing to mainly a niche audience, it doesn't alienate like it should.
From moments of sneering Faith No More tension to ballsy Every Time I Die-ish rock; few other bands out there could successfully pull off a song that sounds like a "Contra" boss battle or a "Ghostbusters"-era Ray Parker Jr. outtake and still keep a pit going. For that matter, few would also want to, but HORSE the band could give a shit either way. This is exactly the rogue attitude that "A Natural Death" captures and while it may be their most accessible effort to date, it is still not only a challenging listen, but an artistically expressive one as well.
(4 / 5)