Heavy Metal long ago descended irrevocably into self-parody. It’s a genre that for me has always been hard to love, and yet impossible not to love a little. Especially if the band is in on the joke, and more important, if they can play. The Horde wins on both counts. How seriously can you take a song where the chorus is “Unleash The Dogs Of War,” or a song called “Throne Of Skulls?” This is cartoonish. Pure Comedy. And yet, it rules.
The Horde are dead serious as musicians. They are incredibly tight, to the point where the band sounds on these songs like a single instrument. But they’re not robotic — quite the reverse. Guided by Paul Deschepper’s manic drumming, every prog-rockish filigree is rendered with grace and muscle. These guys may rock, but they also swing. And while their general approach is to turn everything up to eleven and stay there, they seem to always find a way to get even louder and heavier to push a song to its peak. It’s hard to pick a favorite track, but “Bleeding Into Eternity” hits me hard in all the right ways — ridiculous Teutonic lyrics, machine-gun drumming, wailing dual guitar leads. It brings out the inner 13-year-old headbanger, replete in Chucks, ripped jeans and Megadeth tee shirt.
It may seem like an odd compliment, but I also really appreciate lead singer Duncan’s excellent enunciation. It’s hard to growl and shout and still make every word heard, but Duncan pulls it off. It goes along with the perfect articulation of every thrashed bar chord and cymbal crash. I don’t generally listen to this sort of music, because there’s so much really awful metal bands in the worlds. They screech and wail and give me a migraine. But The Horde really deliver. They bring grace, wit, and dare I say good taste to bear on this CD. ‘Tasteful Heavy Metal’ may be an oxymoron, but The Horde seem to rise above the rancid excesses of the genre, even as they celebrate them.