Thunder Horse – Chosen One Review

Thunder Horse was a pleasant surprise ending to 2018, dropping a solid platter of sludgy doom on our doorstep that December. It was strong enough to attract the attention of renowned stoner/doom/psych label Ripple Music, and here we are now with Chosen One, the band’s follow-up. Like their namesake, this quartet brings thunder to the masses in typically larger-than-life Texas fashion, with anthemic, grandiose doom replete with crushing drums and epic guitar solos. Although not even remotely close musically, the title of an old Dave Edmunds album comes to mind when listening to Thunder Horse. This music is as Subtle as a Flying Mallet.

The opening trio of songs pummels us with monstrous, menacing riffs that shake the dust off even the tiniest of speakers. Drenched in fuzz and overdrive, and with a classic metal sound to them, the songs evoke the atmosphere of metal days gone by while still keeping things fresh. Each song features a little something to close out the track: “Let Them Bleed” has a killer bass breakdown in the final minute, courtesy of Dave Crow and his eerie 12-string bass, while “Rise of the Heathens” ends with a great secondary riff, and when the whole band comes back in on the cue of a church bell, the song hits like a two-ton heavy thing. Hyborian used this model to great effect last year, tacking on a changeup in the final minute or two of some songs, and Thunder Horse are equally adept at it.

“Chosen One” features a huge Black Sabbath-y riff and a shitload of sweet drum fills. With big riffs dominating the songs, and the slow doom pace, it can be easy to forget about drums, but Jason “Shakes” West really brings it, especially in the middle of this song. Check it out in the video below. In fact, the middle of “Chosen One” showcases the evolution of Thunder Horse. The songwriting is more dynamic than on their debut, with plenty of quieter moments, some psychedelia-laced movements, and a plethora of tonal changes. Gone is the movie soundbite gimmick. On “Broken Dreams” the guitar arrangement adds a more distinctive psychedelic feel, and the song is laced with brief lead breaks courtesy of the very talented T.C. Connally, much like the albums of the 70s. It is heavy and sloppy and wonderful.1

Chosen One ends on “Remembrance,” a fantastic dirge centered upon Crow’s 12-string melodies, which sound fantastic with just the right amount of variance in string pitch to give a chorus-like quality to the music, with a sweet organ and tasty guitar lick thrown in. But this really needed to become a fully-fledged song rather than a 1-minute outro; it is ripe with potential. Crow’s bass is much cleaner on this album than the debut, and when he gets to throw down the occasional lick it’s a real treat to listen to. The drums still have that over-saturated quality to them, as if they are exploding out of the speakers. It’s on the verge of being a bit much. And the vocals are slathered in delay and reverb, more so than they need to be; there are far worse singers than Stephen Bishop.

These are minor quibbles, though. Thunder Horse have taken a definite step forward on Chosen One, with more dynamic song arrangements and stronger, more succinct performances. Taking the lead from a number of early heavy bands, Thunder Horse sprinkle enough psychedelic undertones and classic rock spice into the mix to deliver an album of varied and engaging songs, none of which come off as derivative. With all the 4.0verrating going on here lately,2 don’t let this album slip by.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320kbps mp3
Label: Ripple Music
Websites: | |
Releases Worldwide: March 12th, 2021

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Just like me! – Holdeneye
  2. Isn’t it beautiful?! – Holdeneye
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