The alternative-metal scene grows stronger every day, despite the misguided efforts of Brooklyn media hipsters seeking to ensure the domination of pathetic electro bands like Animal Collective. For every horrendous indie-rock act praised in the virtual pages of music blogs, there's a musically accomplished group of post-headbangers knocking on hell's moss-encrusted, heavy oak door.
One such group is Los Angeles' Black Math Horseman, who superficially can be described as Hope Sandoval fronting Black Sabbath. Repeated listens, however, reveal a unique sound that's at once doomy, psychedelic and evocative of an epic Dungeons and Dragons campaign conducted by torchlight at world's end.
Vocalist/bassist Sera Timms produces tones not unlike the ghosts in a Mario Bava chiller, particularly on the tribal, hoof-stomping, seven-minute "Torment of the Metals." Lyrically indecipherable, Timms seems inspired by ambient peers Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and by Nico's The Marble Index. Guitarists Ian Barry and Bryan Tulao refuse to double up on anything as petty as a signature riff, opting instead to weave in and out of Timms' plodding notes and Sasha Popovic's crushingly theatric drums. "Deerslayer" is pure martial aggression, offering guitars bleeding across the sonic canvas with sinister string bends and hammer-ons.
Sure, at times, the songs drift a bit too far in a post-rock direction for many "true" metal fans, but if you simultaneously enjoy the music of Sabbath, the Warlocks and Sigur Rós, this is your dream (or maybe nightmare) band.