A wall of sound and emotion to rock you to your core
Emma Ruth Rundle’s heavy and dense wall of guitar sound is her signature audio trick. There may be several different riffs and melodies going on at once but they all bleed over each other and create a force of nature that just attacks your senses and overwhelms you. With her new album “On Dark Horses”, this signature returns for eight absolutely stonking tracks that will have you waving lighters, slow moshing and screaming your lungs out.
“Fever Dreams” bursts open the album with the most Alanis-like vocal of the album but imagine a shoegaze rock anthem that likes to unfold in slow motion for parts of it. Emma’s drudging guitar chug is ever present and has both power and drone-like dirge elements to it. “Control” has a more southern gothic feel to it with a raging chorus exploding after a low bass and dark country twang verse. It feels witchy but sacrificial because of the constant rolling drums that keep the track smashing forward in the quiet moments and then play back up in the sea of guitar and voice for the epic choruses and outro. “Darkhorse” is possibly my favourite track on the album as it brings all of the elements that make an Emma Ruth Rundle album unique and emotional together. A dark and powerful riff-heavy melody and an anthemic chorus that you can scream and yelp to. In my brain, I always place Rundle’s version of rock alongside Chelsea Wolfe’s version of goth and this album confirms that.
The album of “On Dark Horses” sets out its sound stall and doesn’t deviate. “Races” and “Dead Set Eyes” play slightly towards the rockier side of affairs with catchy solos and breakdown chord blossoms that keep the pace up and the emotions rolling in. “Light Song” distinguishes itself by having a guest male vocal that is so deep it sounds like a Southern storyteller whose got a whiskey in one hand and your rights to be read in the other. It’s such a simple underscoring but it gives a demonic deepness that lets the guitars then rage at higher octaves. Thematically in the album, it also feels like the point in the journey where you are either hitting the point of decision to ascend back up again. “Apathy on the Indiana Border” is beautifully lethargic as the song swells and the circles round and round as Emma becomes increasingly more pissed off sounding and disgusted singing “another day is gone, another day is done for me”. The album closes with an uplifting track “You Don’t Have to Cry” that removes a lot of the wall of sound and focuses on guitar ambience and echoing riffs. It’s a gentle and heartfelt finale that lets you reach your final destination with a hug and a tear.
Immediately right up there on first listen as one of my favourite albums of the year, “On Dark Horses” is the gutsy full-on rock album I desperately needed. Emma Ruth Rundle has plugged into every vein and drained it dry. Whilst it’s very similar stylistically to her previous album “Marked For Death”, I count that as a great thing as they work perfectly together. This is an album you don’t want to miss out on.