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Saturday, June 4, 2016

Review: Yeti On Horseback - The Great Dying

Yeti On Horseback is a doom metal band based in London, Ontario. It came into existence in 2012, but part of its members had been playing together for quite some time before that and the fruits of that labor resulted in the need to form a band. Despite this need, their releases up until today have been few and far between, in fact, this is their first serious release. As with many bands nowadays, I still fail to see the use of it, its members are only known by their initials, making it impossible to provide you with a proper introduction, so I’m going to skip that. They do, however, make one exception to this somewhat incomprehensible habit, instantly giving you a clue as to what they’re about. They count Satan himself among their members, and according to them, he has a hand in everything they do, setting the tone for Yeti On Horseback’s first (full-length) release called ‘The great dying’. I must admit all this combined with their name which is strange to say at the least, didn’t get my hopes up to high in advance, but we all know that judging a book by its cover is never advised.

On to the tunes then. Even though ‘The great dying’ has only six songs, they do span over an hour, so no complaints there. The lyrical themes are far from merry and pleasant considering titles like ‘Tree of death’, ‘Lynch’ and ‘Dragged down to hell’ and they are, according to the band, a comment on what the world is like nowadays. The world has a surplus of negativity, which they gratefully draw inspiration from. So all ingredients for a dark, depressing album are there, hopefully merged into a coherent release. Opener ‘Tree of death’ has a slow start with an intro where the guitar tunes are accompanied by some sort of sonic storm. From that it evolves into a cumbersome song where hurt seems to predominate the atmosphere, mainly due to the pained growls and ditto guitar work.

The next song, ‘Viking mushroom tea’ (What..?) doesn’t score any better on the scale of oppressive atmospheres. Or worse, depending on how you look at it. It’s a notable song, with a peculiar intermezzo that, even though the eerie atmosphere keeps lurking in the background, almost makes your mood swing from deep dark to bright and light. Almost, because just when that point seems to be reached, the music sinks back to the deep dark it rose from, once again flooding you with misery and anger. ‘Fables and lies’ opening sounds just as peculiar as the intermezzo in the previous song did, but that too is short-lived. Pretty soon, in doom metal standards at least, the heavy burden of anger returns with a vengeance, building towards a fierce piece of music before ending in sorrow.

Next up is ‘Lynch (a prelude)’. My first reaction was, that a prelude halfway in an album is quite a remarkable positioning, but it turns out this ‘song’ is merely an atmospheric prelude to the next song called ‘Elephant man’. Hence the word prelude in the title. Again, a song that engulfs you in darkness and anger, although the relatively light guitar work and the addition of a female voice, which is a gem in this song, act as a shimmer of hope in all negativity. Due to this I classify this as the best song on the album. The album ends with ‘Dragged down to hell’, which the band used as epic teaser for this release. It builds up towards a massive, heavy wall of music halfway into the song, only to release that pressure a little further into the song on its way to a grinding end. Literally.

Burdensome, dark, lingering, unnerving, there’s more than one way to describe ‘The great dying’, but whatever you call it, the result remains the same: It’s an album that will leave you with a feeling of unease and depression, which I think is exactly what Yeti On Horseback is aiming for. Seeing their music and lyrics as a mirror of the world and their vision on it, they’re bound to put a lot of negativity in their work, which is clearly audible on ‘The great dying’, a fitting title indeed. All this didn’t stop them from composing a great album, though. Whether you like your music dark and depressing or not, there’s no doubt these guys are excellent musicians, capable of translating their feelings and visions into expertly composed music with an atmosphere that is a perfect fit. ‘Gloomy Sunday’ doom metal style!

Written by Henric van Essen

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