Remember, remember: The Horrors unfurl “Against The Blade”, their new single offering and title track from the forthcoming EP releasing on the fifth of November…Bonfire Night in the UK. The new single comes in the wake of an announcement of a short run of gigs in the UK (Bristol, Manchester, and London) in late November and early December.
With their run of albums since Primary Colours, expanding their increasing scope of sonic textures, an epic landscape of reverb and harmony, and bigger, pop-orientated choruses – some may have felt The Horrors had gone soft. It’s a criticism that would have no grounding in reality when seeing the band live: they’ve consistently offered concertgoers a blistering, euphoric wall of sound throughout their various incarnations. At this point, it would be hard to imagine The Horrors detouring into any style of music coming as a shock though, mapping the constellation of their musical influences would be a mammoth task.
The new music has suggested the band have a renewed sense of singlemindedness in their intent; no small feat, with five distinct writing voices in the band. These songs lean heavily into a harsher sound, with the band collectively putting on the black hat to deliver guttural, disturbing jolts of adrenaline in their music. It’s a tonal shift that will have some fans rejoicing and calling it a return to form, whilst others may be left scratching their heads – itself a testament to the eclecticism of their output.
The sardonic lyrics describe a “gleaming vault” and “our minds are broken and our eyes are glazed”…placing dissociation and resolve in the face of an unwinnable battle. The song features a sampled interlude of a maniacal laugh.
The video for Against The Blade shares some similarities with their previous release, Lout: both feature Isamaya Ffrench, for one. In Against The Blade, Ffrench appears suspended between states like a contortionist marionette, leering demonically at the camera before disintegrating in a looping, disorientating visual – suggesting a digital future which isn’t as egalitarian or as perfect as it seems. Both EP’s teaser videos echo the influence of Chris Cunningham on the band, recalling the disjointed and disturbing visuals in Sheena Is A Parasite.
The Against The Blade EP is a further descent into chaos,” said frontman Faris Badwan. “It’s about the freedom that comes with abandoning all hope, giving up control, and accepting that you will always be at odds with the world around you.”
“Once the ball started rolling with writing Lout, I liked the idea of challenging the band to push all the songs in as extreme a direction as possible,” bassist Rhys Webb added.
In an Instagram Live Q&A with fans this past weekend, The Horrors confirmed that a new album is in the works for release next year. The band also shared elements from their undying (and quite possibly undead) love of music. Some instrument swapping has occurred: Rhys wrote guitar lines this time around. The recording process also seems to have been a more freewheeling affair than before: Rhys explained that writing and vocal tracking had been conducted in each other’s houses and at keyboard player and synthesist Tom Furse’s studio in Essex.
This process shift bleeds into the songs on this new EP having a DIY feeling, like a homebrew hot sauce from the basement with the words “REAPER PEPPER EXTRACT” scrawled in Blackletter Gothic and an ominous skull on the label, – a taste that tantalises as much as it punishes.
One thing remains certain in the wake of the new material…The Horrors are “horrible” again.
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