A Pale Horse Named Death is the solo project of original Type O Negative drummer Sal Abruscato, who manned the skins on their 1994 goth-metal classic Bloody Kisses. With the sudden death last year of Type O mastermind Peter Steele and the subsequent end of that band, APHND’s arrival is a welcome one for those who like their rock music dark, brooding and heavy.
Of course, Steele was such a singular individual with such a wicked sense of humor that anyone trying to merely imitate him would be doomed to failure. Wisely, Abruscato doesn’t strive to write elaborate and/or humorous lyrics in the manner of Steele; there is no “Wolf Moon” here, no “Black No. 1.”
Abruscato’s approach is instead much more direct and literal, if no less dark.
The songs on And Hell Will Follow Me are more Lou Reed meets Alice In Chains lyric-wise, featuring straight-ahead of depictions of life’s dark side like “Heroin Train” and “Pill Head” (a sort of sister song to AIC’s “Junkhead’). The former song, in particular, effectively details how one’s life can spiral out of control in ways previously thought unimaginable before he or she started taking opiates: “I never thought I’d end up a fucking junkie,” sings Abruscato.
The sound of APHND, with Abruscato playing all the instruments and providing the vocals, can best be described as gothic grunge, a hybrid of dark metal in the vein of Type O and Danzig mixed with a heavy dose of the aforementioned AIC, as found in chugging guitars and melodic choruses that bring to mind the work of Jerry Cantrell and Layne Staley.
While at times this sound can verge on the formulaic (“Serial Killer”), fans of Type O especially will find much here to love, including “To Die In Your Arms” (“When I pass, cover me in black lace / Your black lips kiss my face”), the ethereal “When The Crows Descend Upon Me,” and especially the epic closer, “Die Alone,” a song which Peter Steele surely would have appreciated for its blunt existential sentiments alone. “My life has fallen apart so many times I’ve lost count,” sings Abruscato over a dirge-like riff. “One thing is guaranteed, you always die alone.” Amen to that.
Overall, And Hell Will Follow Me is very promising debut for APHND, and bodes well for future work from Abruscato, who has enlisted former Type O Negative skinbeater Johnny Kelly for upcoming live shows. Brood on, Sal!