The Horrors - Against The Blade EP

The Horrors – Against The Blade EP

Complete sonic metamorphosis isn’t a new concept for The Horrors, but their recent leftfield swerve into stompy ‘90s-style industrial rock with ‘Lout‘ was their most drastic shapeshift so far. When the dust settled, however, one could see a passing resemblance to the clatter and ferocity of their debut, ‘Strange House‘ and the singles and EPs that preceded it. In a sense, it’s almost a return to that era, although the winkle pickers are out and New Rocks are in.

It’s safe to say that this direction didn’t come out of nowhere. London’s industrial scene – and I’m not talking about Slimelight; I’m talking dustbin-lids-as-cymbals, chainsaw guitars, “yes, Patrick, mayonnaise IS an instrument” industrial. The DNA of Dogfeet, The Murder Act, and Ulterior is all over this new material.

…But if it wasn’t for ‘Lout‘, I don’t think ‘Against the Blade‘ would have sold me on The Horrors’ new direction. While the juddering clank and rabid energy of ‘Lout’ felt visceral and authentic, ‘Against the Blade’ comes off at times as a sarcastic pastiche of industrial rock’s clichés. The lyrics are the worst offender here, “an empty picture frame, no sensation”, “why say a prayer when there’s nothing to save?”, and “I’m just a slave” practically filling a bingo card of stock phrases you’d expect to hear in a Marilyn Manson SNL sketch. Were it not for the bile-filled, baleful ‘Lout‘ that came before it, ‘Against the Blade’ would not have had me on board with The Horrors’ latest sonic detour.

However, all hope is not lost. The churning ‘Twisted Skin‘ and electronic throb of “I Took a Deep Breath and I Kept My Mouth Shut” redeem this EP, the band settling into their new sonic and aesthetic landscape. Perhaps the title track was a heavy-handed attempt at fitting into their Demonia boots and dog collars?

Don’t get me wrong – I like what I’m hearing. I like what I’ve heard from this new era on ‘Lout’, this EP’s latter two tracks, and even ‘Against the Blade’, for the most part. It’s just that the growing pains are easy to see here. Luckily for them, pain is very industrial.

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