A Throne Without a King
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- Released: January 23, 2012
- Originally Released: 2012
- Label: Hydrahead Records
Pitchfork (Website) - "Pyramids and Horseback evoke certain metal qualities, the grandeur and the gloom, the brutality and fearlessness, without needing to actually draw on metal's vocabulary."
Song previews provided courtesy of iTunes
Recording information: The Chateau.
Initially, Denton, Texas' post-everything mysterios Pyramids, and Jenks Miller's proto black-psych project Horseback from North Carolina, were to issue a split 7" single for Hydra Head, with each group offering a side, then collaborating on a single piece. Given the the highly unpredictable (read: restlessly innovative) nature of these two acts, however, and the generosity of Hydra Head's owners, they stretched the collaborative aspect to the breaking point, creating a four-part, nearly 45-minute suite that gives this album-length set its title. The individual pieces are marked by each act's strengths. The Pyramids' "Phaedra's Love" is all quavering, washed-out sounds, acoustic pianos, hammered dulcimers, whispered, indecipherable vocals, and ambient atmospheres lull the listener until 5:29, where pummeling industrial drums and other screeching sounds create a nearly unbearable tension that lasts just under a minute before it just as quickly ceases and echoes into silence. Horseback's "Thee Cult of Henry Flynt" is sheer, psych-black metal run through the hallmarks of Miller's love of Americana (as evidenced by his other band, Mount Moriah) as bizarre as that sounds. Blastbeat drums, constantly thrumming guitars, thin basslines, and shrieked vocals make this a completely different hybrid on black metal's chassis. Fine as they are, they are but brief precursors to the main event. Throne Without a King is virtually unclassifiable. Alternately ambient and trippy and flowing, tense, menacing, and nearly brutal, its sounds -- machinelike, musical, organic, found -- simply flow from one to another without ceasing until the listener is left in the silence at the end of the work. This is sonic experimental journeying at its best with elements of Gothic blues, hymnody, industrial menace, ambient washes, and tripped-out improv coexisting in equal spaces. Each group tries to meet the other not halfway, but somewhere else entirely. Listening to them go to wherever that is, is not only a head-expanding listening experience filled with more moods, textures, colors, effects, sounds, and spaces than you can count, but is remarkably accessible -- without compromising the elemental nature of either group. Some new language is born in this piece and plays out to etch itself permanently in the listener's (melted) mind set as a form of musical speech that wasn't even imagined possible by the players before this encounter. In either of its incarnations -- 7" single-plus-LP or CD -- Throne Without a King is the first great experimental recording of 2012. ~ Thom Jurek
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