Pittsburgh’s Horehound inject more grit, swaggering attitude on killer new album ‘Holocene’

My humble hometown of Pittsburgh has an embarrassing amount of good metal bands circulating in the underground scene, and there are reliable groups you can see with some regularity as they grow and morph into new beasts. Oh, someone let our local scribes know that. They seem lost. Anyway, one of those is Horehound, whose new record “Holocene” is a late-year crusher.

If you’re a local, are into heavy music and haven’t seen Horehound, then you’re not trying hard enough. And I say that as someone who doesn’t try hard enough. You can fix this over the weekend, by the way. Details below. They’re a fixture here and have been steadily increasing their profile, playing a live set for local radio station 105.9 the X, who finally played some good music when they were on, as well as being one of the notable acts on this past year’s Descendants of Crom fest, the brainchild of Horehound vocalist Shy Kennedy. Earlier this year, their crushing 2016 self-titled debut was reissued on vinyl, which was a precursor to the world-toppling “Holocene,” which is the band’s finest hour (well, 44 minutes). Kennedy, a barnstormer of a singer, and her equally as smoldering bandmates Brendan Parrish (guitars), Nick Kopco (bass), and JD Dauer (drums) unload a grittier, heavier, more scathing record than their debut, and they infuse even more blues, psychedelic power, and face-bruising attitude than ever before. It’s one hell of a record, one that should get them even more attention beyond city limits, which they undoubtedly deserve.

“The Kind” opens the record hinting at delicacy with its acoustic strains, but then the bottom drops, Kennedy growls pierce, eventually wailing, “We take and give nothing,” as everything pummels around her. Later on, the bass slinks, leading into another nasty riff, which growls catch fire again, clean calling follows, and the track comes to a smoking end. “Dier’s Dirge” is punchy and has a proggy edge before going clean with softer singing. Then the hammers drop, as the band delivers heavy punishment, and Kennedy calls, “What we’ve done can’t be undone.” The track haunts before turning thrashy, with growls scathing, and the song boiling away. “L’appel du Vide” has weird guitars effects at first before turning bluesy, as riffs snake, and psychedelic playing causing dizziness. The track then ambushes, with the singing coming through a watery guise, and haunting speaking coming afterward. The drums hit back hard, and the growls return before Kennedy warns, “There’s nothing left here.”

“Sloth” has mind-altering guitar work, with Kennedy luring, “Come a little closer,” as the ambiance of the track feels chilling. Soloing spreads out before the track chars with calculated approach, with the track bleeding out into a pit of smoke. “Anastatica” delivers a tasty bluesy riff along with echoing vocals, and an assault packed with swagger. The guitars blind later on, with the soloing turning beastly, hammering heavily and confidently. “Won’t let you into my mind,” Kennedy vows, while the track comes to a sweltering finish. “Highball” barrels in, looking to do damage, with the riffs swinging away unconcerned of who and what they mow down. “You can’t see me,” Kennedy taunts, while the bass trudges and the guitars hang ominously. A psychedelic swirl arrives, with the playing melting faces and ending in fire. A brief hidden track that comes out of nowhere is packed with Kennedy unleashing demonic howls, as if she’s trying to scare the shit out of the entire black metal community that think they’re so evil. You’ve been served, kids.

Horehound is another huge credit to the Pittsburgh heavy music scene, and it’s about time the rest of the world takes notice. “Holocene” is a tremendous, eye-opening album that is a huge building block from their first record and shows their undeniable power and attitude. Undeniably this is a doom record, but it’s one that should pull in followers of all types of heavy music who just want to be bludgeoned as they’re taken to another plane of existence.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://www.doomstew.com/store/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.doomstew.com/

Horehound play their record release party Saturday at 9 p.m. at Brillobox. Progressive sludge monsters Pyrithe (they added a goddamn theremin) and power metal warriors Lady Beast open what’s going to be a destructive night of local metal.