Horse The Band - The Mechanical Hand
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Record Store Day 2023
2005's Mechanical Hand fine-tunes Horse the Band's entire operation. Erik Engstrom's keyboard still guides these songs, and often recalls the mechanistic, gawky robot feel of '80s video game music. But Engstrom and Horse the Band recall the 1980s in general, too. "Manateen" is incredible. It starts out by ripping off the same tubular Duran Duran groove that's responsible for the Killers, but shifts garishly into an angular post-hardcore screech, like a noisier version of what Fugazi were doing at decade's end. Horse aren't finished. "Manateen" goes on to crash soft synth melodies into righteous hardcore, and despite these jarring parts and sounds, Mechanical Hand never sounds as fragmented as R. Borlax. The experiments continue. Arrows whiz by, men scream, and drawn swords rattle over the rolling snare of "Heroes Die"'s intro; it soon becomes a monolithic metal trudge. Shades of Iron Maiden, Brainiac, White Zombie, Converge, Dig Dug, and Mario Cart bare their teeth on "House of God" and "Octopus on Fire"; the keyboard stabs away, the guitars ring with something approaching anthemic or at least thickheaded glory, and Nathan Winneke's vocals go from yowl to growl to snark in the twist of an elbow