Opinion Review

Spook The Horses: People Used To Live Here

The third album from New Zealand’s Spook The Horses sees them delving deep into post metal darkness. Written through harsh winters and self-imposed isolation, the result is a bleak 40 minutes of highly conceptual and atmospheric music.

The main thematic device here is a guitar. It rings out without much by way of effects or drive, a quiet clanging death knell that faithfully delivers the main theme for each track. Bass and drums provide a spacious backdrop and after that it’s all ambient effects. It’s minimalist to say the least.

From the stripped down and stumbling opener ‘Lurch’ and track two, ‘Crude Shrines’ some songs will see a slight increase on behalf of tempo, body and vocals. Occasionally, minor progressive elements play around with time signatures for added strangeness

It’s all quite dark. ‘Blessed Veins’ could almost have been optimistic, but just when hope becomes tangible the band manages to squeeze in more atmospheric tension, like a small problem that seems minor but festers over time. And then, 16 minutes in, the vocals will show up most with ‘Made Shapeless’. The assertive singing style stands stark in the landscape of tranquil chords, but the instrumentation soon rises up to meet it. So each song may be simple but there’s always evidence of a clear concept.

Track by track, “People Used To Live Here” makes a habit of trading one sadness for another. Each journey follows a similar trajectory where a slow stark start builds extremely gradually to a busier but still desolate pinnacle. As an album, it covers a spectrum of desperations. This music requires patience and emotional resilience as it meditates on some heavy emotional content, but stands out for its execution.

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Listen to “People Used To Live Here” below.