The new album from West Virginia’s Horseburner, entitled The Thief, is a strange beast, frustratingly blowing hot and cold through its entirety. It’s like taking a musical journey and trying to dock at as many ports as possible, some of which work and some of it which don’t.
The Thief boasts some impressive musicianship, particularly the melodic guitar leads that occasionally go off piste a little to fuck with your ears. The tone is huge and gritty, like being crushed under a slab of concrete, and the tones on the aforementioned guitar leads possess an ethereal beauty that have the potential to give the listener an out of body experience. One of the strongest elements about this album is the god-tier vocals which flow effortlessly through the music and, whilst being reminiscent of Strapping Young Lad in places, would not be out of place on a Mastodon record either.
Throughout the album however it very much feels like everyone is frantically pushing to the forefront to have their individual input heard which unfortunately hinders the overall output. Songs like ‘Drowning Bird’ and ‘The Fisherman’s Vow’ feel confused at times, almost like the band have asked “how many influences can we crowbar into one song?”. It can simply overwhelming when it doesn’t all tie together. Furthermore, some of these sections contain parts Horseburner’s peers could only have dream of having writing, whilst others sound a bit “my first metalcore song” – take the riff that kicks in at 0.53 in ‘Drowning Bird’ for example. The Thief also offers three instrumental tracks which feels like they’ve be included to bulk out the album and don’t really add much to it despite totalling almost six minutes between them. The album would feel far more cohesive without them. Whilst some may argue the instrumental tracks serve to tie the album together, coming full circle on a musical journey perhaps, it unfortunately feels a little lazy and unimaginative here.
So The Thief is a middle of the road record, not terrible by any means but not going to set the world alight either. It’s just a shame that the negatives detract from the handful of positives on offer here. Horseburner would definitely benefit from a “less is more” approach to their next record.
The Thief is out on 9th August via Ripple Music and can be purchased here.
Words: Luke Davison