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The No Longer Guilty Pleasure of Hard Rock

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by Alex V. Cook, Music Editor for outsideleft.com
originally published: May, 2005
the sky starts to collapse on "Howard Phillips" which evolves from a metal stomp into full on progressive drill to the center of the earth
by Alex V. Cook, Music Editor for outsideleft.com
originally published: May, 2005
the sky starts to collapse on "Howard Phillips" which evolves from a metal stomp into full on progressive drill to the center of the earth

Drunk Horse
In Tongues
(Tee Pee)

All hail the ass-kickers! I didn't always feel this way. I've alluded to my formative music years embracing what could be graciously described as "less macho" musical groups in protest to the legions of idiots that held onto bands that fizzled out of their lumpen existences before we were born. My turnaround came in my late twenties, when at some point I acquired a rather formidable collection of 8-track tapes and would listen to them out of the steadfast irony that only a single man in the first third of his life can muster. Given the era in which these infinite loops of hissy splendour were the rage, there was a sizable Foghat and Nugent contingent in my collection. It was purely ironic, mind you, I still didn't admit to being into this music.

Finally the time came to move out of kitch stuffed shitty apartment and into a nice smelling place with an actual woman and to shed much of my superfluous hipster plumage. A friend expressed interest in my collection, so when I went over to his apartment to discuss the terms of his exchange, I was looking through his own hipster music collection and noticed the bank of Led Zeppelin CD's, commented thereupon and he said he'd trade me the whole catalog for the 8-track tsunami. Best deal I ever made, because I found a whole classic wave of sound that I had dismissed. Intricate, emotional, powerful. I gleefully accepted Zeppelin into my heart as my personal saviour. I won't say it turned me completely, but it opened me up to the wide vista of rock.

My review of the Drunk Horse CD might take a whole different tone had this transformation not have happened. These guys take the hooks and drive and solos of all those grinding power anthems emenating from your classic rock station, mixed with the power/punk/metal/pop rock of the Foo Fighters to make one of the most kick-ass albums I've heard this year. And I know people love to say they hate the Foo Fighters, but you and I both know you love them. Just admit it, and move on with your life a better person.

In Tongues swaggers out the fence with the battering ram with a slide guitar-laden groove of "Strange Transgressors" and keep that pace throughout the whole damn thing. The earth is duly scorched by the second track "Nice Hooves" with its early ZZ Top piston action and requisite crossroads story and the sky starts to collapse on "Howard Phillips" which evolves from a metal stomp into full on progressive drill to the center of the earth.

The chorus on "Preistmaker" are pushing things a bit into metal parody, but the song kicks so much ass that no foul can be noted here. But in this den of killer riffs, the killer-est is the meat-slicer opening the Golden Earring gone ballistic classic "Self-Help" easily the finest number on this jukebox, and while you are listening to it, the best song you ever heard. I fully admit to not having taken the Thrasher class on Metal Classification but I'll stab at it saying that the eerily current "Vatican Shuffle" shreds, if I am using that word correctly. This is the hard rock album I have been looking for after trying to get into the likes of Queens of the Stone Age and never really grabbing hold.

Not to paint this as a redux BTO album or anything, I must inform you there is the artful instrumental epic "Grinding Teeth" that drags in traces of everything from Heart to Zappa to to King Crimson to John Coltrane to form an unrelenting neo-prog runaway train the likes of The Mars Volta has never unleashed.

If you have been looking for something for your car stereo to bomb out the quasi-kick-assedness of all those adorable punky garage bands that cipher for rebelliousness, I point you to this snorting bronco kicking at the gate of his stable. This will garner the admirable knowing glance of the dude in the adjacent lane, even if you manage to not bang your head repeatedly on the steering wheel, and when the extended solo on "Reverse Close Encounter" its time to test how loud that stereo will go.

see more stories from outsideleft's Music archive »»

Alex V. Cook
Music Editor

Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com


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