By Pulled Apart by Horses
Pulled Apart by Horses have been relatively quiet since the cancelation of their late 2012 tour. The tour was set to see the band play some of their largest headline shows to date, in support of second album, "Tough Love", an album that refined the sound fans had associated with the band. Tough Love proved popular amongst journalists, mainstream radio and, of course the listeners, but it was difficult to describe the album without saying something along the lines of; "It's like the first album, only a bit more tame". Still, a powerful collection of songs with knackers the size of basketballs, but a bit more focused, and targeted to a larger audience of rock music fans. It was with this in mind that I approached new album, "Blood", with a sense of expecting a similar sound to previous releases. PABH have been quiet for a long time writing new songs, but just how has this time affected the sound of these four stallions?
Upon first listen, Blood really surprised me. This is by no means a re-hash of what PABH have done in the past. Of course, it's the same basic elements: Guitars, bass, drums, vocals, but these tools are utilized in ways we've never heard in past releases from the band. Opening track and lead single "Hot Squash" is almost used as a bridge between the previous album, and what to expect over the next half hour.
Two songs in, and things become clear. "ADHD in HD" features a simplistic lead riff, layered with a mixture of dirty and clean guitars that sound instantaneously like nothing we've heard from PABH before. Enter the first verse, and here's another surprise. Vocalist Tom Hudson is giving his throat a rest from the constant screeches and screams and is treating us to a rare sighting of his singing voice. But don't be fooled. As ADHD in HD twists and turns, it grows and shifts into a balls out Nirvana-esque ditty.
Its largely business as usual through "Lizard Baby" and "You Want It", which is no disrespect to these two as songs, but the next big surprise comes in the form of "Hello Men". Dare I say the verses here have a Shoegaze influence? That is to say, the verses feature washed out, feedback laden, reverberated float-y chords and layered vocals. It's clearly something, once again, new for PABH and it works surprisingly well. It really highlights that the band have developed their song writing ability, and aren't afraid to try new things. This is certainly a stand out track in terms of the band pushing themselves in new directions of sound and sonic experimentation.
This very much sets the tone from here on out. That's not to say the rest of the album sounds like Hello Men, but that the band really embrace experimenting with there sound, displaying how diverse they can be, and that this horses isn't a one trick pony. "Skull Noir" sounds like Black Sabbath in a reverb chamber, "Grim Deal" features the slowest pace the band have ever used but with an epic chorus, "Medium Rare" is a poppy, stomp beat jaunt with catchy melodies, harmonies, and even a tambourine.
It would be fair to say that the band have embraced a more "commercial" sound, in a sense that this album is likely to appeal to a larger audience than previous works. Sure, it's not a complete departure from the familiar. We still have heavy riffs, blood-curdling screams, catchy lyrics and the rest that is associated with the bands sound, but this is a demonstration by Pulled Apart by Horses, showing that they can be versatile. They can combine elements of post-hardcore, pop and old school heavy metal in different ways to create an album that grows more interesting with every listen. As much as I am a fan of the previous two albums, this stands out as a more exciting and vibrant collection of songs. Each track is unique within itself meaning you never know what's coming next, whether it's the pop sensibilities of "Outahead", or the Epic-rock album closer, "Golden Monuments". This is Pulled Apart By Horses at their finest.
"Blood" is out September 1st via Best of the Best Record/Sony and is available for pre-order at: www.pulledapartbyhorses.com
The band have announced a November tour in celebration of the album. The dates are as follows:
21st: Manchester - Gorilla
22nd: Glasgow - Stereo
24th: Brighton - The Haunt
25th: Birmingham - Library @ The Institute
26th: Bristol - The Fleece
28th: London - Heaven