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Horse Latitudes : Gathering

What do you do when you donít have any guitarist at hand? Well, you do what Horse Latitudes did: you play Ďregressive Doom Metalí with bass only.

What do you do when you donít have any guitar, canít play guitar, donít know any guitarist and both your other musician friends can only play bass? Well, you follow Horse Latitudes's example: you play Ďregressive Doom Metalí with only two basses and drums. Thatís an ironic mental projection of mine, of course, and I donít know the exact reasons that have led Horse Latitudes to write music where guitar hasnít found any place. Drum 'n' Bass. The mix is a trendy one: just think of those still quite young acts like Talbot, Beerhoover or Jucifer. All Doom bands, all Ďallergicí to guitar.

Truth is that the sound of a bass really belongs to Rock and beyond to Metal, it sets the rhythmic basis, the round and thick flow on which any kind of loud and heavy architecture can be built, be it aggressive or mellow; bassists are the cornerstone of Metal, they are essential to Doom particularily, because the genre demands that kind of plodding sound bass can produce. In the case of Horse Latitudes, the originality lies in the bassistsí duet. Two basses... For more heaviness and psychedelic vibes? Mmh, not really.

The drummer composes and writes most of the music and lyrics and heís also the bandís singer. His voice sounds a bit like the one of Albert Witchfinder from Reverend Bizarre and I must stress this is the true highlight of the album. The music in itself, given its components, is, as expected, stripped to the bone and minimalist, heavy, repetitive and droning - bass chords are not the lightiest thing in music. ĎHypnoticĒ could have been added to the description, but, as a matter of fact, this lies very much in each listenerís reception abilities, in the mood you're in. At first - Iíll be honest - I didnít feel myself plunged in that state of Stoner Doom trance that bands like Sleep, Electric Wizard, or Acid King can induce. Over the several spins I gave to this album, I might have been grabbed a little by that hazy feeling, but, unfortunately, it didnít last.

Sometimes, a pattern seems to emerge: some kind of meager riff, exhausted, crawling but alive; it plods along and along in a sullen forced march. Both bass-guitars yawn, and soon fall asleep in a last droning note. However the drummerís playing does a lot to add dynamics to the broth. As singer, he adds that welcome dose of dark sermons, full of inner bitterness, modulated on the bassesí flow, following the same rhythm. His voice echoes like a romantic wounded harbinger of biblical cataclysms. Very Doomy indeed. It kind of works pretty well on the thick slow-moving layer of basses.

Unfortunately, the musical ideas are too thin on the ground, the rhythm changes too timid to make this album really interesting. Itís a bit too lazy, it works like an elementary wave, moved by flabby undulations; nothing shines, everything is quite monotonous, grey, like a big dull droning with so little variation. A better, more powerful production could have granted the album the kind of vortex dimension it could have searched for. A spiralling downfall, wild and obsessed. What it is not.

As it is, it still appears like a curiosity. Thereís an interesting Ė if not exciting - sense of lurking threat brought by the two bassistsí ominous lines, but it never sounds like that kind of savage ceremonial you can feel in Electric Wizardís music or the black liturgy of The Wounded Kings. As I said, the drummer/singer does a big job to make the music more complex and to animate it but, to tell you the truth, I have the feeling this project could reach an upper dimension if a guitarist were to be used. Letís see how it will evolve.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Hornblas
2. Seas of Saturn
3. Gathering
4. Son of the Moon
5. Decayment

Duration : Approx. ?? minutes

Visit the Horse Latitudes bandpage.

Reviewed on 2011-01-01 by Bertrand Marchal
Hate Your Guts Records
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