A couple weeks ago I had to take my turntable to the record store to get repaired. Naturally, I was digging through the bins even though I didn’t have a turntable and was surprised to see a new dead horse LP there. To the layperson dead horse, no capital letters, is a cult level metal band. However, if you are like me and live in the Houston area, more specifically Pasadena, these guys are gods. Peaceful Death and Pretty Flowers is album that put them on the map. dead horse’s style is a curious mix of thrash, punk, college rock, country, with a bit of cheekiness. Sadly, as well received as that album was they soon broke up. Singer/guitarist Michael Haaga formed the Plus/Minus Show, another outstanding and critical rave that never got it’s due. The rest of the band formed Pasadena Napalm Division with Kurt Brecht of D.R.I. on the mic. Time went on and the dead horse guys decided to revive that band and get a new singer. In steps Mike Argo and after many shows and an E.P. they have released The Beast That Comes, their first full length studio album in 25 years.
I must admit I was a tad nervous about hearing this. I love this band and was a huge fan of theirs so my defenses were up on the first couple of spins. Most noticeable is they seem to be going for a more straight ahead metal sound. Meat and potatoes thrash. It’s fine but a bit lacking. Any worries I had about the new singer were quickly satisfied. Argo has a familiar style that works. What was unique about Mike Haaga is there was a certain slacker vibe to his vocals. Argo echoes that at times but not so much as imitates it. Album opens with “How We Rot” and it sounds like dead horse. And that’s a good thing. I don’t know if it was him but on “Kill The Infidel” there was the cookie monster death metal vocals and it seemed real out of place.
What disappointed me was the element of fun that was prevalent with dead horse seemed to be missing. “Let Me Drink” is a fun song about drinking but the music but musically it’s not as jovial as the lyrics. The Ramones cover of “Beat On The Brat” is pedestrian and at honestly, covering the Ramones is about as Hot Topic as you can get. “A Loaded Gun” and “Train Ride” are the two where the band seems to channel their older incarnation.
Maybe it’s unfair to compare 2018 dead horse to 1991 dead horse. We’ve all gotten older and had kids and real jobs so putting minivan driving The Beast That Comes next to $1 beer night Peaceful Death is a no win situation. But the $1 beer night version is omnipresent, can’t be avoided. You cannot fight Father Time but even though you have to drive that minivan you can still decorate the back window with Metal bumper stickers.
Final rating, I’d be happy paying…
$14.99-Regularly Priced CD
$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon
$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on sale
$1-buy it at a pawn shop, garage sale, car wash, whatever
0-Not worth the drive space