Release Date: 9th April 2021
Record Label: Prosthetic Records
FFO: Crowbar, Eyehategod, Testament
Following on from their debut Remains, metallers Horndal continue their tale of woe and economic destruction in a way only they know how. Sophomore album Lake Drinker takes cues from thrash, hardcore and sludge to paint a grim picture of industrial and social decline in the wake of a faceless corporation coming to town.
Opener ‘Rossen’ starts with a sombre, if menacing tone, before moving into a frenetic riff that takes heavy influence from Slayer. Rather than remain at full throttle however, the band soon lock in at a more middling pace with a titanic chorus that grooves and stomps in sludgy fury. This is very much their modus operandi for the remainder of the album, balancing a thrashier style of riffing with slower, grinding moments.
Horndal’s approach to sludge is often on the faster end of the spectrum and more melodic for the most part; ‘The Usurper’ spends its three minute run time moving from stomping, churning groove to foreboding minimalism and chimes, while ‘Growing Graves’ has a neck-snapping opening riff so addictive it should come with a health warning. Elsewhere, ‘Town Burner’ has a melodic fury in its leads straight from the melodeath playbook and closer ‘Ormön’ opens with a dissonant, almost blackened feel.
Thematically Horndal tackle the economic decline of their hometown which the band derives their name from. This is no accident; the band’s own lives are intrinsically tied to the town itself. Lake Drinker tells the story of a devil coming to town and ruining lives, though rather than any religious iconography it’s the all too real spectre of big tech and capitalism, cutting down the town’s forests and as the title suggests, emptying the lake. It’s a tale of woe and destruction captured artfully in the band’s sound, the heft of the tone and riffs underscoring the darkness of the content and delivery.
What Lake Drinker does exceptionally well is in its use of groove and pace; while most tracks are at a relatively middling speed, it imparts a serious stomp and the band have more than enough riffs in their arsenal to keep things interesting, at least for the most part. The hyperfocus on a relatively smaller scale also humanises this tragedy rather than simply speaking of evil, making it a surprisingly affecting listen if you stop to take stock of what’s being said. Horndal’s second effort is a worthy successor to the first and marks them out to be ones to watch in the future.
Recommended Tracks Rossen, Ruhr, Thor Bear