The most famous Nintendo-core band of all (and yes, I found a slew of underground bands playing Nintendo-core back when mp3.com was still cool) is back with another album. I have to admit, it’s hard to make those 8-bit sounds work in a band who’s sound is based around a video game system that came out around ‘86.
Since everything is pretty closely focused on those keyboards, it sounds as though HORSE THE BAND sometimes has some difficulty drawing the guitars out to create melodies and riffs that really fit with the material. When they allow the guitars and keyboards work together, you get a strange amalgamation of 80’s material taking place in a heavy environment, such as 80’srock, 80’s metal 80’s synth pop, and even 80’s movie soundtracks. However, the times when the band has trouble supporting itself is when they go full out to let the keyboards run the show, then everything else becomes “what are we supposed to put here?”
I’ve only had a chance to listen to a small amount of songs from HORSE THE BANDs previous efforts, so my only other comparisons I can make are with only a few select songs. The previous material seemed pretty dead set on having all bad cop vocals all the time, but this time the vocalist tries some half spoken word half singing, and splits that with screaming. The effect doesn’t always work well, as a few times he goes slightly off key, and it simply doesn’t sound like he’s trying hard enough to make it work. Perhaps if he tried a bit harder, and took a better stab at imitating those 80’s synth band singers, the clean vocal attempts could work better, since that seems to be the intent of some of the clean singing.
You can of course expect breakdowns, most of which are hidden under a barrage of those Nintendo blips beeps and other assorted effects. It certainly turns an element focused on the live show into something more palatable for someone just listening at home.
The biggest downside seems to be the sheer number of songs. “A Natural Death” spans 56 minutes with 16 songs, and you can certainly hear when the band is spreading the creativity thin. The old songs I had heard from HORSE THE BAND I have to say were damn good. It’s understandable that they want to progress on each album, and it’s an understandably difficult task to keep the Nintendo theme while still marching forward. The 80’s elements are a very commendable try, and had they been perfected a slight bit more, I’m sure they could’ve made a damn great album, if it wasn’t for those vocals that miss a little bit, and the huge amount of filler songs. Still, “A Natural Death” isn’t a complete loss. It’s still enjoyable and intense with a few good hooks in between.