5 out of 5
Produced by: Bob Cheek (recorded by)
On a pitch black plain, bands from 31G’s no-wave punk stable gather around a broken speaker which spits out squeals of Young Widows and Daughters, everyone taking turns stabbing said speaker until the sound resolves: into Haunted Horses; into the deathly sounds of their sophomore album, The Worst Has Finally Happened.
From other reviews I’ve checked these won’t be the only references coming to mind. Whether or not such names are good or bad to you, one thing is clear, right from the slow-roll ominousness of opener House of the World to Come, into the thundering rhythms of The Garden: that Haunted Horses have emerged from this ritual with a sound that is familiar but never derivative, as though all these bands came from the same starting point, with their experiences bringing them each to utterly unique current positions.
For Haunted Horses, the accompanying lyric sheet is a Lovecraftian tale of demonic infestation – although given the timing (2022) and some of the wording, it’s very possible to read this as social commentary. Either way, it is powerful, menacing stuff, made all the moreso by the group’s terrifying barrage of speak-shout vocals, pounding bass and drums, and another layer that shimmers between a guitar and synth sound seamlessly, with the presence of what may even be a horn nudging this into noise territory, a perfect spot for Chris Common’s masterful mix, which further assists in the album’s amazing balance of pace and tone: always angry, but with a range that allow breathing room; a logical flow that makes the A- and B-sides of the vinyl like two chapters in a tale, setting the stage, escalating, and then slaughtering everything during the conclusion.
2022 nears its end. I suspect Haunted Horses will be waiting at the end of all things, but at minimum, The Worst Has Finally Happened has earned its place as one of the most powerful albums of the year.