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On A Pale Horse: Black is Not The Darkest Colour

"Black Is Not the Darkest Colour" is On A Pale Horse's sophomore effort. It's a straight-forward rocker that's gritty yet accessible. 11 tracks of 'good ole boy' rock with attitude. Of course, 'tude will only get you so far and the band's musical limitations become apparent after a couple of numbers. Sure, there's plenty of hooks and decent riffs; sure, vocalist Aaron Peltz has got a decent mid-range voice which never reaches in vain for notes too lofty to attain, yet I hear no new ground being broken here, no original interpretations of a decades-old formula. The band's music seems to be in some sort of musical purgatory. Not punk enough to be punk, not heavy or sludgy enough to be doom, OAPH seem to be in a 'no man's land' between wanting to be a serious rock outfit and some 'wannabe famous' band getting bottom billing on the latest "Vans Warped Tour". I don't mean to imply that this band can't get it on and rock out. Tracks like "The Flood" provide some patently 90s pre-packaged anger with a killer main guitar riff and decent wah-wah excursions. Unfortunately, tracks like this one are followed by lamentable numbers such as " Eagle Of the Mountain"; a cliché-riddled pseudo-metal song with corny lyrics and a laughable chorus reminiscent of 80s stadium metal at it's worst. Maybe I'm just becoming bitter in my old age or maybe a quarter of a century of listening to heavy rock has made me too harsh of a critic. I'm just not hearing this band on the same par as bands like BLS, Crowbar, Down, or Orange Goblin, to name a few. This said, I'd like to point out some of the stuff I like about this band. They do show us a glimpse of a darker direction on some numbers. "Break The Bread" is a grunge-like piece that shows some teeth. Its slow and hypnotic riff is counterpunched with Peltz's strongest vocal performance thus far on the disc. The disc's closer also shows the band does have some promise. "The Darkest Colour" is a track that kind of meanders but manages to create a mood of darkness and despair, not really prevalent anywhere else on this disc. It comes across as an unrefined, unedited jammed number; an approach which works well for the band. The track expands from a repetitive mantra-like musical line into a groovy and infectious riff. The number then returns to the dark, almost psychedelic, intro to explode another time. Not necessarily the most original material being released these days but the band pulls this number off the best of the entire album.

I'm not sure just who will get any kind of decent mileage out of this release. To me, it comes across as doom with the training wheels still on. This band will have to dig much deeper if they want to carve a niche for themselves in what is an already very crowded and very limiting genre.

Track Listing:

  1. Come On (3:21)
  2. The Day Has Come (3:09)
  3. Steps (2:58)
  4. The Flood (4:38)
  5. Eagle Of The Mountain (3:27)
  6. Meadows (3:57)
  7. Won't Go (2:55)
  8. Break The Bread (4:40)
  9. Eight Directions, Eight Dimensions (3:53)
  10. The Darkest Colour (12:56)

Added: August 21st 2005
Reviewer: Yves Dubé
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Language: english

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