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Horse Latitudes - Black Soil
21 June 2013

01. Initiation / Black Soil
02. Forest
03. Eternal Spring

Here we go again with these fucking Finns. Whether it's the likes of Oranssi Pazuzu, Aarni, Dark Buddha Rising, or even a wild card like Candy Cane, it seems as though in the past few years there's been a growing tendency for Finnish metal to serve up a lot of big balls of ohmygodwhatthefuckery: hypnotically dark, mesmerizing bands that send you to the deepest recesses of time, space, and mind with their music. Brace yourselves, kiddies: your egos are about to be swallowed.

Horse Latitudes have been known to their few loyal devotes for playing that type of haunting, chilling doom that shrouds you in a black cocoon and doesn't let you out until the music's end, and 2013's Black Soil sees them continuing this trend. No guitars are to be found here: these Finns have deemed them to be for pussies, far too cliché for their monolithic wall of sound. Instead, we have two basses, tuned down to drop Z and smothered in a cloak of distortion and synth effects. The resulting sound is overpowering, but in a good way: the opening track feels like attempting to walk through a thick, heavy valley of b̶l̶a̶c̶k̶ ̶s̶o̶i̶l̶ ̶ mud, with your body only becoming further immersed the harder you try to escape.

The musical formula on Black Soil is simple, yet well-delivered, and the production has enough of a round and "fat" sound to it to complete that feeling of being suffocated in the heaviness of the music, which is no doubt what Horse Latitudes were going for. The vocals of drummer Harri also display an interesting range when compared to the more minimalist approach of the music: a mix of snarling-like growls on the one hand (see beginning of "Forest") and then his impressive clean wails on the other, the combination of which helps to balance out the mood of the album.

But although Black Soil may be effective when it comes to entrancing the listener and creating a dark, enveloping atmosphere, at many points Horse Latitudes' formula feels like it falls short, perhaps because it's so simplistic. Some bands can definitely make "less is more" work to their advantage, but this album (at least to my ears) really feels like it's missing some creepy keyboard effects, or a psychedelic-toned guitar, or even a few more eerie spoken word parts like the one towards the end of "Forest." In short, Black Soil is a good effort, but definitely one that feels like it could've gone deeper into the aesthetics of its genre for a more profound effect on the listener.

Performance: 7
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
Production: 8


Written on 25.07.2013 by
Your friend the witch doctor.
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Boxcar Willy - 26.07.2013 at 05:21  
Love me some phat doom.
Boxcar Willy - 26.07.2013 at 18:54  
The length of this is perfect too. 35 minutes.
Apothecary - 26.07.2013 at 21:45  
Written by Boxcar Willy on 26.07.2013 at 18:54

The length of this is perfect too. 35 minutes.

Yep, not too long. A formula like this going on for like an hour would probably get incredibly boring.

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