Sunday, June 19, 2011

And Hell Will Follow Me - A Pale Horse Named Death - 2011

And Hell Will Follow MeEssentially a Sal Abruscato solo record, A Pale Horse Named Death's And Hell Will Follow Me is an impressive departure for those who may have expected Type O Negative (or Life of Agony), Part II. Immediately calling to mind the Foo Fighters following the death of Kurt Cobain, And Hell Will Follow Me is familiar but different, entirely Abruscato's own. It's a record that is hard to label but great to hear. I've only had it in my hands for a couple of days but it's been a rewarding listen.

My first impression was "Black Label Society with a Gothic twist" and while I still think that holds true, it probably really oversimplifies the album. This is dark subject matter, to be sure, and certainly stems from Sal's own experiences and runs the gamut from suicidal ideation to heroin addiction to nightmares to paranoia to schizophrenia and back again to drugs, serial murder and death again. Reading the lyrics, there's not a lot to feel good about but this is where A Pale Horse Named Death's Type O DNA shines through: somehow it does make you feel good. Humorless, yet purifying. Dark, but, despite the lyrical content, not destined for doom. It's audio therapy if ever there was such a thing. And this, I guess, is because it sounds so damn good, so damn real.

Who knew Sal the drummer was a jack-of-all-musical-trades? Type O always had great harmonies and the vocals are, of course, evocative of that era and similarly styled. And it's a given that the drums are A-fuckin'-OK. Then the dude trots out a guitar solo in the first song, "As Black As My Heart." He's no Yngwie by any means but, like this entire record, it's a fearless move. And flavors of the past remain as the bass tracks also recall the tempo of the mighty Mr. Steele. Biohazard's Bobby Hambel adds guitar leads on three tracks and Keith Caputo from Abruscato's other gig, Life of Agony, contributes to the vocal harmonies on a handful as well.

There's a nice churning, grinding tone to A Pale Horse Named Death that, again, while many compare to Alice in Chains and the grunge sound, brings Black Label Society to mind for this listener. "Heroin Train," one of the tracks on which both Hambel and Caputo guest, is the exemplar for And Hell Will Follow Me's sound.

And Hell Will Follow Me also provides a nice throwback to Type O in the form of an instrumental sound collage, "Bad Dream," serving as intermission and bridging the gap between tracks about drugs and simply feeling unhappy to songs on serial murder and, again, more drugs. A track like "Bath in My Blood (Schizophrenia in Me)" reminds one of elements of Danzig's dark renaissance, 777: I Luciferi, while others like "Pill Head" combine music that would have been right at home on anything by, again, Type O Negative with a vocal presentation that belongs solidly to something new.

And Hell Will Follow Me ends on a spectacular note, with a near-eight-minute epic, "Die Alone." The ghosts of the past haunt this one on all levels and the lyric is utterly devastating in its simplicity:

sometimes you wake up and your world is swallowed up
sometimes your world changes overnight
sometimes the ones you love betray you
sometimes you find yourself all alone

my life has fallen apart so many time I lost count
so many people I knew now they are all lost
one thing is guaranteed you always die alone

Heavy stuff, indeed. And yet, again, somehow I don't feel compelled to open up a vein. A Pale Horse Named Death provide a real catharsis with And Hell Will Follow Me. It's one I won't mind experiencing again, one I won't hesitate to share with friends and one which I hope will be only the first in a line of future releases from A Pale Horse Named Death.

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