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CD Review: Horse The Band – The Mechanical Hand

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Horse The Band – the name should catch you right away. If it doesn’t, maybe the fact that they’re referred to as “Nintendo-core” will arouse your interest. If it doesn’t, then maybe their second album being produced by Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Blood Brothers, Pretty Girls Make Graves) will help? If none of these apply, then screw you! Horse The Band is back with their second album, “The Mechanical Hand,” produced by Matt Bayles of Minus The Bear. This is more polished than their rough-around-the-edges first release “R. Borlax” back in 2003– and it lacks a lesbian love skit as heard on track 6 of “R. Borlax.”

Nonetheless, this is more mature (musically only) than their previous release. On Horse The Band’s MySpace page, they state their influences include “gay porn and fried chicken” and they sound like “having sex with a dead body.” Obviously they are still childish, or maybe it’s that they don’t care what people think.

Listening to 2003’s “R. Borlax” was like being on the Batman ride at Six Flags Great Adventure that shoots you out at 60 something MPH and doesn’t slow down until you pull back into the boarding terminal. “The Mechanical Hand” is more like a wooden roller-coaster at Coney Island, in that there are multiple ups and downs that shoot you inches from your seat and yank you back down. There’s moments where “The Mechanical Hand” is fast and make your face peel back, then slower and melodic, allowing you to just enjoy a nice gust of wind brushing against your face. To prove my point, there’s actually TWO instrumental tracks on Horse’s latest release.

They are heavier on the keyboards this time around as well, probably because Matt Bayles had a say in that. Matt is the keyboard/synthesizer operator in his band Minus The Bear. The use of keyboards and synthesizers sets Horse The Band apart from all hardcore and metal bands. It’s very hard to pigeonhole them and compare them to a band- but at the time of this review they are touring with the Dillinger Escape Plan and Between The Buried And Me.

Horse The Band have been referred to as “Nintendo-core,” and I really think that’s lame, but personally, I think most labels are lame. Although, it does sound like five 20 something year old guys who are totally into aggressive music, chugging guitar riffs, and Metroid got together and started making kick-ass, innovative and progressive hardcore. After hearing this album, if you are not inspired to at least check out how much you could get an original N.E.S. for on eBay!, there’s something wrong with you.

This album is a lot tighter and more musically innovative than their previous “R. Borlax.” That album was balls-out chaos, and “The Mechanical Hand” has it’s moments of insanity, but even at it’s craziest it still seems perfectly planned and executed. I guess that’s what being signed to the KOCH Entertainment subsidiary record label, Combat Records, will get you.

Fans of the Dillinger Escape Plan, Blood Brothers, and Nintendo theme songs, who have an open mind, will highly enjoy this album. I recommend this album if you are tired of hearing the same hardcore songs performed by different hardcore bands.

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