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horseback - the invisible mountainI like it when metal record labels throw us curveballs. No, I’m not talking about Vampires Everywhere, but how every now and then a metal label will take a chance on a band that’s only tangientially metal. While such moves often infuriate the label’s core, they serve as a refreshing break for the rest of us more open-minded fans and provide a glimpse into something new.

Take recent Relapse Records’ signees Horseback. Relapse has hedged its bets on the beardo metal (for lack of a better catch-all term) scene lately with new signings such as Black Tusk, Indian, Black Anvil and Mose Giganticus, and though it’s possible that Horseback will appeal to fans of those acts, the band really represents something else.

Horseback’s new album Invisible Mountain — which you can stream in its entirety right here and was released earlier this year on LP via Aurora Borealis — has black metal undertones in the music and especially vocals, but the overall picture is closer to psychedelic shoegaze metal, like a spiffed-up modern Jesu or something like that. If not for the abrasive vocals, it wouldn’t be all that hard to imagine a bunch of patchouli-wearing Dead Heads encircling a bong with Invisible Mountain on the long player.

Clear and simple rock drums and fuzzed out, driving bass set the foundation for atmospheric guitars plucked in repeating patterns that swirl and spin. Grating high-pitched black metal vocals rest on top of it all, and the effect is at the same time jarring and soothing. The record’s one downfall is its seemingly endless repetition, but I get the sense that that is quite deliberate; this music is more about creating mood and getting lost in the moment than it is about “the song” or the destination. It’s like Phish for metalheads.

Enough of my rambling. Check out the full album here and let us know what you think.


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