Sometimes, when reviewing a record, it’s really difficult, if not impossible, not to be influenced by nostalgia. Therefore, when you’re in front of an album that keeps alive the legacy of one of your favourite bands of all times, the judgment will never be completely objective. I know that.
A Pale Horse Named Death is an American gothic metal band that was created in 2010 by Sal Abruscato, the former drummer of the legendary band Type O Negative. And since the beginning of this new project, he and his bandmates have never hide the fact that Type O Negative, together with Alice in Chains, was to be considered the principal references for their sound.
When the World Becomes Undone is the new LP released by A Pale Horse Named Death, and the style of music played by the band doesn’t deviate too much from their previous two albums: 2010’s And Hell Will Follow Me and 2013′ s Lay My Soul to Waste.
Fans of gothic metal will enjoy in this LP the beautiful combination of dark atmospheres, heavy and melodic riffs, with slow – but not obsessive – rhythms. The quality and also the charm of this music, however, makes the record in principle accessible for a wider and more heterogeneous audience of listeners. Just as it happened in the past with Type O Negative or more in general as is the case with the best bands, their area of influence is generally wider than what the boundaries of their genre should dictate.
When the World Becomes Undone brings with it the original spark of light that illuminated the bands they are inspired by, and the album still preserves many of the elements that many years ago made these formations to become legendary. The level of quality of the masters remains still unattainable, that’s clear. But in this sense, the operation that was conducted by Abruscato was absolutely valid, and smart. He has in fact managed to develop a style of music that despite being inspired from that of his former band, it’s still moving towards new directions. In this respect, the insertion of the grunge component into the gothic recipe was an interesting and well-executed move. A few songs, actually, are more close to grunge than to gothic and doom. This is the case, as an example, of the two central songs of the album Vultures and End of Days that could be truly part of Alice in Chains’ new LP.
The songs of A Pale Horse Named Death’s new album range from atmospheric and relatively dark moments to brief phases in which the music becomes more energetic and the rhythms tighter. Slow tempos dominate for most of the record, in particular in the central part of the LP.
The sonic aspect of When the World Becomes Undone is particularly intriguing. There is in the forefront the combination of dirty and strong guitars with powerful bass, and of course the voice of Abruscato, which I found particularly warm and empathic. The work done by the other two guitarists is also excellent and the songs are plenty of interesting guitar inserts and subtle melodic lines that stay in the shadow of the main riffs. Sometimes all the intricate lines of the guitar may seem almost imperceptible, at least if you don’t put too much attention to the details, but in the end, they really contribute to the overall atmospheres of the songs.
My rating for the album is 8/10. This record presents a beautiful mix of past and present, and it offers a collection of songs that are strong and melodic at the same time.
My favourite songs: Love the Ones You Hate, the title track When the World Becomes Undone, We All Break Down, and Fell in My Hole.