You wouldn’t know it by my amazing metal cred, but I’m actually a huge nerd. And, as such, it seems to be my moral obligation to watch British sci-fi staple Doctor Who religiously. It’s a campy affair with loads of creatures and concepts that seem to have been invented by someone going “what if…“ and constructing entire episodes around that. A latter day classic among the villains is a race called the Silence, who have the uncanny ability to make you forget all about them as soon as you stop looking at them. Why am I telling you all this? Because I have the feeling Hornss might be the Silence.
Let’s rewind a bit. Telepath is the second album for these stoner rockers. They owe a heavy debt to Kyuss like all stoner bands, but they heap on some extra fuzz and speed, emerging a somewhat swampier Truckfighters. Some tracks like “In Fields of Lyme” and “Sargasso Heart” sport a punky riff that reminds a bit of minor league players Coliseum. It’s mostly a straightforward affair, although occasionally the band pop some mescaline and flip all the echo and feedback switches, like in the sluggish opening track “St Genevieve.” They keep the tracks short and snappy and the album is done in half an hour.
Superficially the band sounds alright. The vocals reside in the vicinity of Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age. They’re on the same level of okay as most stoner bands, a genre with traditionally low standards for vocalists, but it gets the job done. The instrumentation is generally okay but tremendously unspectacular. The riffing is rather rote and doesn’t inspire much enthusiasm. The bass is audible, but there isn’t much more I can say about it, and the drumming is similarly perfunctory. None of the elements stand out in particular, and the vocalist is the only one who can be accused of doing his part with any gusto. Those looking for inspired and spirited music should probably look elsewhere, even though the tunes on display here are never bad or irritating.
All these ‘perfunctory,’ ‘alright,’ and ‘okay’ elements pool together to form one of the most forgettable albums I have ever laid ears on. I’ve listened to it half a dozen times and can not recall a single riff even moments afterwards. As soon as a new song comes on, or the album ends, I only recall a general picture of their sound, but not a single vocal line or guitar riff. Part of the blame falls on the production, which is more fuzzy and muddy than a Pomeranian in a swamp. It seems tailor-made to reduce all impact of the music, melding the vocals and the instruments together like a bland and forgettable lump of dough. It’s completely harmless and leaves no impression at all. Beside the utterly uninspired songwriting this homogeneous sound seals the coffin on this most beige of albums. Telepath is almost admirable in its commitment to tepidness.
Like the Silence from the opening paragraph, Hornss exist to be forgotten the moment their presence leaves the ear. It might even be useful for therapy: if you can make a PTSD patient associate their trauma with this album, they might simply forget all about it. The songwriting and production both need a serious kick in the ass to make the next effort more memorable, but there is not a single element that would not benefit from a sharper, tighter and more enthusiastic attitude. As it is… Well, I think I did come up with a satisfactory concluding sentence at some point, but I must apologize. I have forgotten.