I kind of love everything that Ripple Music has done in the last few years, but I gotta say, Hornss might take the cake. While at first glance they very much fit into the traditional stoner doom polemic that a lot of pretenders have been knocking off lately, there is something truly special about their new record Telepath. This is a band who seem to build on the ideas established by bands like Monolord, they have that same crushing sense of forward motion and riffs that come in never-ending waves. At the same time though there is something almost lighthearted about what Hornss do here, just take a look at a song like 'The Black Albatross": it has an almost Sabbathian swing, making for some fun listening that makes this a record worth coming back too time and time again. Hornss understand what stoner metal needs to be, and rather than getting lost up its own ass, Telepath remains vibrant and exciting from its tip to its taint.
I think what gets me about this record is that despite being a rather quintessential modern stoner album Telepath doesn't drag on. It's relatively short run time means that it remains interesting. You don't have the chance to start second guessing the riffs because Hornss know to stick oodles of solid riffs and melodic stretches into each of their songs. There is enough variance here that rather than getting the impression that Hornss just got high in the studio and pressed 'record' (As one feels with a lot of stoner rock these days) the band clearly put hours upon hours of work into the crafting of these songs. They show a band who have digested the lessons of Black Sabbath and Pentagram but are unafraid to put more than a little of their own unique flair into the music. It makes for addictive listening. Whereas many of their peers can turn getting through a record into a chore Hornss seem dead set on turning the genre on its head and proving that there still is a place for potent riff heavy rock in 2016. The market isn't that crowded yet!
So yeah, Hornss have more than their fair share of Black Sabbath and Sleep worship, but they do it well, so even though it often plays into traditional tropes the band is creative enough to discover top notch ways of exploring these. It shows us time and time again that Hornss aren't just rock gods, but a band breathing much needed new life into a genre that so often feels boring and stagnant. Their music is full of epic swells and jaw dropping decrescendos. They prove to be at once highly structured but also jam oriented. There's a lot to pick apart with any given track on Telepath. Sure it might require a bit more thinking than your standard stoner doom record, but for me that's a part of the appeal. They remain earthy and dominant without slipping into the esoterica of bands like Yob and Subrosa and they can write a hell of a melody line. What more could you want?