I’ve found a tendency of late to gravitate towards music that doesn’t easily fit into one genre, or sub-genre even. These niche sub-genres like blackgaze that I originally have fawned over, I’ve found to have quickly grown easily saturated. I also have a seemingly insatiable appetite always for something ‘new’. Looking back at a few of my favourite releases of the last few years – such as Rolo Tomassi and Astronoid, they both undeniably brought something unique to a table that has seen way too many of the same meals. The blackgaze/post-black metal subgenre has seen a resurgence in my eyes this year due to several bands willingness to innovate and stretch its boundaries, and Glassing’s upcoming sophomore release Spotted Horse is no exception.
Spotted Horse wastes no time with intro tracks to ease you into their harrowing, blast-beat laden organized chaos and delivers a gut punch right from the first track. “When You Stare” effectively displays all of which the Austin trio have crafted for the listener for the next fourty-plus minutes, with crunchingly heavy staccato chugs (shoutout to Andrew Hernandez for the superbly fitting production), noisy wall of sounds and ethereal, moody ambiance. The vocals while a bit one-dimensional, stylistically remind me a lot of Oathbreaker, and have this very An Autumn for Crippled Children level of emotional desperation and rawness to them that add to the pained longing ever present on this album.
Where recent releases from bands in this sub-genre such as Illyria and Numenoreon invoke more modern metalcore and progressive metal influences into their black metal pallet, Glassing draw from their predecessors of the likes of Converge, and Botch, in a manner that the likes of the aforementioned Oathbreaker have been able to pull off very successfully. I would argue semantically that this more a post-metal or blackened hardcore album than black metal. While the influence and genre traits are present at times, they’re much less of the defining identity here, but that ability to seamlessly blend all these influences is one of the reasons this album is so strong.I think a lot of bands in this sphere especially tend to struggle to incorporate what makes post-rock and post-metal worthwhile genres in the first place, and just ham-fist in atmospheric eeriness and clean sections for the sake of contrast. “A Good Death” strikes me as a means of doing this properly. The ambient post-rocky crescendo has a well-structured payoff that makes the build-up worth it and feels natural to the progression of the song.
The positioning of the tracks here is very effective at keeping a strong and logical flow, as a follow-up to one of the more down-tempo and atmospheric songs of the album, “Bronze” adds some needy energy to the album with some fast paced The Fall of Troy inspired riffing and a lot of old-school post-hardcore influence. “Follow Through” then explodes with heaviness, keeping the throwbacks coming by bouncing back between odes to Converge and blast beats, and more MySpace eraNorma Jean-esque “panic chord” breakdowns and pinch harmonics.
Spotted Horse concludes with one of the most beautiful tracks on the album, the aptly named “The Wound is Where the Light Enters”, a 6.5 minute relaxing epilogue of soft drums and clean chord progressions with an underlying current of tension, which allows you to reflect introspectively on everything you’ve just experience with the feeling of accepting loss. This is summed up in the two first lines in the song, “You carry on without me, You carry on with easy words.” A cathartic end to an emotional journey through dense textures and the illusion of hope.
Fans of the heavier side of post-rock, the atmospheric side of post-hardcore, and the emotional side of black metal should find plenty to get lost in here. Glassing’s Spotted Horse will be released on May 17th via Brutal Panda Records on LP and digital formats. For preorders, head here.
Check out the new music video for “Sleeper” below.
Spotted Horse drops May 17th via Brutal Panda Records, and is available for pre-order on the band’s Bandcamp page.