Warhorse - As Heaven Turns To Ash [Southern Lord - 2015]Southern Lord recently re-issued As Heaven Turns To Ash, the long out of print release by Warhorse. It’s amazing how many bands, for whatever reasons, go under the radar; Warhorse is one of them. Now defunct, the band formed in Massachusetts in 1996, releasing a full-length and Eps before calling it a day. This re-issue features the full album As Heaven Turns To Ash along with the bands last Ep, the aptly named I Am Dying.
“Dusk” starts off things, a short instrumental, with strumming guitars in minor chords. It’s a bit of an austere beginning and certainly not a precursor to what follows. “Doom’s Bride” begins with an incredibly slow tempo. It’s eerie, sloth-like doom sprinkled with blues riffy guitars. The low vocals are layered into the mix, which works exceptionally well here. “Black Acid Prophecy” is awash in 70’s style trippiness, sounding like a mix of early Black Sabbath and Black Widow. The vocals though, do tend to get a bit lost, but the riffs are relentless and LOUD. “Amber Vial”, a short instrumental, is perfection; it’s a flawless mixture of lo-fi mystical psychedelia, very melodic and lyrical in its guitar work. “Every Flower Dies No Matter The Thorns” brings things back on track with a great bass line and rolling drums. Things progress lazily, yet there is a pervasive feeling of menace. Vocals are hypnotic and add a magical feel among the well paced chaos.
“Lysergic Communion” is all feedback and static until the low spoken word vocals kick in. Disturbingly slow, but maybe a bit too sloth like. Forward onto “Dawn”, it’s similar to the above mentioned “Amber Vial”, with its 70’s mystical vibe. It’s all strummed guitars and under produced sound, which is a big way to say it’s perfect. “Scrape” has another great bass line, slightly Geezer Butler influenced, very riffy with lots of swirly effects on the bass. It also has a beast of a guitar solo. “”And The Angels Begin To Weep” is an extremely short instrumental, featuring minor chords on the piano in repetitive phrasing. “I Am Dying (originally from the ep of the same name) starts with percussion and distorted guitars. The vocals kick in and so do the riffs, slow, heavy and dirty. “Horizons Burn Red” (also from the I Am Dying ep) rounds out the re-issue. It’s a nice bit of reverbed heaviness and bombastic drumming, a shade reminiscent of Entombed on the vocals.
Then it all came to an end both literally and figuratively. The band is no more, but at least we have a reminder of their greatness. It’s all quite sad when a band is discovered after the fact when members have moved on (Jerry Orne, bass and vocals; Todd Laskowski, guitars and percussion and Mike Hubbard, drums, guitars and percussion have all moved on to new bands) They gave us a unique sound that had touches of Cathedral, Black Sabbath and Blind era Corrosion of Conformity. The vocals, although sometimes a bit buried, had a hint of Lee Dorrian and L.G. Petrov to them. Weep for what could have been and play to death what we have.