Horn add to journeys from last record, create new adventures with massive new EP ‘Retrograd’

Photo by Marco Gazaneo

I’ve been watching this miniseries “Waco,” about the David Koresh-led Branch Davidians and their demise at the hands of the U.S. government, and along with it are these mini-episodes you can access online that fleshes out the story more and gives added insight. It’s way to dig deeper into the source material and ensconce yourself into the mentality and events that led to the cult’s end.

While not quite the same idea, German pagan-style black metal band Horn, the effort of sole member Nerrath, has a similar idea on his hands with new mini-release “Retrograd.” It comes on the heels of last year’s astonishing seventh full-length “Turm Am Hang,” a record we loved and praised, and this EP’s six songs and 27 minutes are sort of an extension of that effort. The sound and style very much are the same, as Viking metal is wrapped in lush folk accompaniment, giving the record an edge that’s equally violent and lush. The record again surrounds itself in the majesty of nature, a topic very near and dear to so many artists who create in the pagan/Viking/black metal terrain, and Nerrath’s expression and emotional display can only make your insides quake as you take on these spirited tracks.

“Retrograd – Einleitung” is a quick intro track built with acoustic strumming, drums, and rustic notes before going into the full “Retrograd” cut that punches open, with autoharp jarring the senses, and gruff vocals joining the swarming melodies. The chorus is strong, while horns and synth unite, tremendous riffs rain down, and the track dissolves into strings, bringing the darkness to a close. “Bocksfuß – Einleitung” is a quick two-minute cut that has rain falling, strings chiming, and wordless calls, leading into the fuller body of “Bocksfuß” that tears open, with drums pounding, and grim growls mixing with clean singing. Proggy, spirited playing emerges like thick mist, bringing solemnity, but then things burst open again, and the track speeds ahead. Thorny growls and a melodic fury bring the track to its end.

“Garant” is folk-infused at the start before metallic fury arrives, and a strong riff slips in as the spine, and the pace utterly blisters. This reminds a bit of Primordial in sound and spirit, with a punishing assault, vocals spat out, and a grimly sung chorus that makes the blood rush. From there, the playing surges and catapults energy before it’s crushed closed. Closer “De Einder” has sweeping strings and a humid environment, as Nerrath’s singing is outright bellowing, as he pours his heart into the tale. The track balances folk and gloom, as the song punches ahead, achieving a fluid place that rushes. The final minutes amp up the emotion and turmoil, with the song tidal waving, and woodsy strings ending the tale.

Nerrath’s majestic power and metallic glory are on full display with “Retrograd,” a perfect stop after “Turm Am Hang” to give his listeners just a bit more color and substance in which to sink their teeth. His music continues to get more compelling as he goes on, and there’s plenty of adventure left in his world. It’s a journey that doesn’t demand much of your time but still leaves you compelled when it’s all said and done.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/HornOfficial/

To buy the album, go here: http://shop.ironbonehead.de/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.ironbonehead.de/

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