These reviews were internet finds. Some are righteous and on the money, but some are dribble and bullshit.

Either way, I included what I found, you really should check out their music and decide for yourself.

  • SO, yeah…tangible reviews from back in the day to as recently as NOW…
This review came from the local Boston club paper called "The Weekly Dig" 
from Sept. 27 - Oct. 4, 2000 
(contributed by Krista Marino Orne) click to enlarge

  • (Review of As Heaven Turns to Ash)
Warhorse are really something of an enigma. The band had released two demos and an EP previous to the release of this, their only full-length, and went on to release a final 7" before calling it quits. Oddly, the quality of those other releases varies from quasi-listenable to "meh." The strange decline on that final single aside, what's really astonishing is the band's transformation from horribly produced, meandering near-nonsense on their previous two EP's to near-perfection on this album within the space of a single year. Given the band's apparent taste for psychedelics, one can only assume that their drug intake and tolerance finally hit some sort of beautiful equilibrium that found them uncharacteristically able to communicate their drug-fueled sonic adventures into actual, listenable recorded music. Perhaps their inability to recreate that equilibrium is what led to their demise but in any case what resulted is some of the finest stoner metal I've ever had the pleasure of hearing.

On As Heaven Turns to Ash, Warhorse lay into some of the thickest, grooviest, most memorable stoner riffs ever to crawl forth from the psychedelic void. The guitar tone on this album is absolutely immense. The line between guitar and bass is tenuous at best and the whole thing is fuzzier than a furby with a finger in a wall socket but the clarity in production is astounding. The gigantic, grinding riffs manage to trample on while never stepping a toe on the bass drums; needless to say the effects-laden lead guitar isn't hindered in the slightest. But holy hell, those riffs! When the distortion kicks on after the brief intro to "Black Acid Prophecy" I could swear my body hair count at least doubled. I'm all too familiar with hyperbolic statements about giants stomping on buildings and rhinos with jackhammers for horns stampeding through concrete bunkers and that sort of thing that you usually find in stoner metal reviews (and Bolt Thrower reviews, naturally) but all of that hyperbole really does apply in this case. The band never once descends into the aimless noodling that plagued their EP's. These are slow (but nowhere near drone) to mid-paced monsters that are pure bluesy Sabbath worship. Check the riff that comes in at around 5:10 on the aforementioned "Black Acid Prophecy" (incidentally one of the few riffs where the guitars and bass are really distinct) for evidence of just how damn good these guys are at writing absolutely perfect stoner riffs. The really amazing thing about the whole affair is that apparently that titanic guitar tone was produced on a crappy solid state Crate amp along with the same Boss FZ-2 pedal that Electric Wizard abused so brilliantly on Dopethrone. No expensive Orange Amp stacks for these lads. There's some really excellent use of lead guitar on this album, too. The leads are usually a fuzzy, noodly, wah-heavy psychedelic lines recall Hendrix just as much as they do Iommi and there are often two lead lines at once while never letting up the tonnage on the rhythm lines.

The vocal performance is really the only thing holding this back from absolute perfection. Orne uses a sort of gruff, rough edged sort of shout. I suppose they're harsh enough to count as "harsh vocals" but they're nowhere near the kind of delivery you'd hear in black or death metal. Maybe imagine Animal from The Muppets minus the caveman speak and awkward heavy breathing. On "Every Flower Dies..." the sparse vocals are drenched in a lot of effects, which wouldn't suit them on the other songs here but given the sort of trippy, repetitive nature of this particular track the effect is quite welcome. The vocals are mixed fairly low so don't really stand out much, which is something of a blessing given their fairly pedestrian delivery. This also isn't really a vocal-heavy album; there are lots of extended instrumental segments so the vocals aren't really a central component to the music. I don't dislike the vocals at all and they don't detract from the experience in the slightest, but had a more powerful, emotive style been used I feel like it would have taken this album to the next level. A missed opportunity, at worst.

The drumming is fairly subdued but fits the style well and is more varied than, for a point of close comparison, Mark Greening from Electric Wizard. There are more than a few really interesting patterns (the intro to "Every Flower..." comes immediately to mind, along with the drum solo in the middle of the song) but the performance is never really flashy and you won't hear any double bass on this one. As far as stoner metal drumming goes, though, this is definitely far above average and should be exciting enough to hold the interest of nearly any drum aficionado.

What really sets this album apart, aside from the sheer brilliance of its riffs, is the sequence of songs and the songwriting itself. Of the nine songs on the album, four are shorter instrumental interlude pieces but bring a lot of much-needed variety to this often boring and samey type of track. Opener "Dusk" is a gentle acoustic guitar piece that does an amazing job of lulling the listener into a false sense of security before the opening of "Doom's Bride" hits you in the gut like a metric ton of filth. "Amber Vial" is an Eastern-sounding piece with some tribal-sounding drumming and a droning guitar line that sort of reminds me of a sitar (though not as jangly) and bridges the gap between the doomy behemoth "Black Acid Prophecy" and the hypnotic "Every Flower Dies..." excellently. "Dawn" has some really pretty, almost pastoral acoustic guitar work and some minimal drumming and album closer "And the Angels Begin to Weep" is a brooding piano piece caught somewhere between horror and despair. While these interlude pieces are all excellent, it's the longer, ten-minute doom suites that really serve as the backbone of the album and steal the show. Despite their long running times, the songs almost never beg to be edited to a more reasonable length or to have riff changes happen more often. That's not to say you'll find a new riff every few seconds on this album, but the riffs themselves are so damn catchy and flow together so flawlessly that the record will have your utmost attention throughout its running time. The band also does an excellent job of sewing together the really subdued segments and the heaps of absolute sonic destruction, with the intro to "Scrape" being a dramatic example of this technique. It really lends a hell of a lot of weight to those doom riffs once they come crashing in and serves to show just exactly how much these guys know precisely what they're doing. This really is the type of record where, after a few listens, every single riff will elicit shouts of "oh hell yeah, I love this part right here!"

While the atmosphere is certainly drug-fueled, it also has a decidedly evil bent to it. Again, I draw comparison to nearest sonic milepost Electric Wizard: while the Wizard are all old horror movies, weed, Lovecraft and Satan, Warhorse play the soundtrack to a really intense hallucinatory journey that mostly maintains a positive atmosphere yet which has the threat of the "bad trip" looming in the background the entire time. If you've heard other material by the band, I really encourage you to give this album a shot as it's a completely different beast from the disappointing remainder of their discography. I would even go so far as to say that it sits on top of the stoner metal heap along with legendary records like Sleep's Holy Mountain, Electric Wizard's Dopethrone and Kyuss' Blues for the Red Sun. This is absolutely recommended to even the most casual fans of doom/stoner metal and would make a good starting point for both extreme metal fans trying to get into the genre (due to the generally dark atmosphere and harsh vocals) and traditional/doom metal fans looking for something a little harsher than what they're used to (due to the unabashed Sabbath worshipping riffery). Tune in, drop out and turn this one way up.
- iamntbatman, May 20th, 2010 (from Encyclopaedia Metallum )
  • (Review of As Heaven Turns to Ash)
First off, I must say that I really don't understand why this album is rated so low. Although it's contents may not be the most original ever done, It is certainly not bad. Rather the opposite in my opinion; It is damn good.
It's starts of with a quite minimalistic intro played with a pair of acoustic guitars. This is certainly nothing interesting nor great, but it works fine. There are four of these instrumental bits on the album, my favorites being the oriental-sounding Amber Vial and the calm acoustic bit Dawn. So I guess that leaves the intro and the outro as the most uninteresting songs on this album.
Warhorse play heavy-as-hell doom with nice Black Sabbath type riffs and groovy solos. The production is quite raw with lots of distortion and bass, and as the vocals are raw as well, it all fits together nicely. It would be even nicer if the vocals were a little more varied, but that's no big problem.
All songs except the instrumental pieces clock around ten minutes, it can appear boring hard to listen to at first, but don't let that scare you away... Give it a few spins and then you probably know if you like it or not :)
My favorite tunes: Doom's Bride & Black Acid Prophecy.
- chainsawexecution, February 9th, 2005 (from Encyclopaedia Metallum )
  • (Review of As Heaven turns to Ash)
5.0 out of 5 stars - Apocalyptic Doom Metal crushes all comers.

Bludgeoning Doom...Crushing Subsonic Bass with Obscenely Overdriven Guitar --these words are paraphrased from the Band's website. I normally wouldn't even consider starting out a review with pre-release propaganda from a band or label's website, but, y'know what? These guys may actually be one of the relatively few metal bands who can back up their cocky claims of supremacy.
As someone who's been loving metal since the seventies, I've never been more puzzled by a retro movement that this latest "stoner/doom metal" craze. First of all, I bet Ozzy, Tony, Geezer, and Bill, themselves, are shrugging at how revered their sludgy, bass heavy, sound has become thirty years later; and, secondly, much of this latest wave of "doomania" doesn't really sound much like the music it's trying to emulate anyway, with tempos way slower than vintage Sabbath, and growled, death metal vocals (such as those of Bongzilla and Burning Witch), which are far removed from Ozzy's menacing wail.

All of the above said, when it's as good as the new Warhorse does it here, who cares about authenticity? These guys have been around since the mid-nineties, already having undergone "Spinal Tap-esque" personnel changes, but just in time for the REAL new millenium they have exploded on to the scene like a depth charge with their first full length album. This power trio makes no promises of early 'seventies authenticity, referring instead to this dose of dusk-'til-dawn doomy dirges as being like "death metal on quaaludes." First of all, yes, the vocals are gruff, but they are effectively recessed into the thick smoke of guitar fuzz; and the inananely stoned out lyrics are sparse, so that the album feels more instrumental than anything else. Secondly, the quiet "flowers and beads" interludes are mostly acoustic, quite effective, and authentic-sounding (not the electronic, almost ambient stuff, that many retro albums try to pass off as "spacey psych." music) with an eastern flavor, that feels like walking through a heavy haze of incense into a c.1970 drug den with beads hanging in the doorway. Then, of course, these 2-4 minute "soothing, trance-inducing interludes," as the official Warhorse website's album description calls them, are rudely offset by 8-10 minute viciously viscous tar pit death marches, with classic titles like "Lysergic Communion." If anyone's wondering about the sound quality (although that's usually not a primary concern with albums like this), it has amazing transparency and dynamic range, for such a dense, distorted, and "maxed out" recording.

If you have any interest at all in ULTRA heavy, over-the-top, subterranean sounds, and you like to hear it extra low and slow, at least once in awhile (like Saint Vitus; Electric Wizard; Cathedral's, Forest of Equilibrium; Earth 2; or Type O Negative's, World Coming Down), and you don't like or need a bunch of synth/keyboards in your metal, you probably NEED to have this album. I normally can't stand reviews that make claims like this, but...I have to wonder, at least: is this the doom metal album to end all doom metal albums?
-Into "voidness" (everywhereandnowhere) January 23, 2001 (from Amazon )
  • (Review of As Heaven Turns to Ash)
4.0 out of 5 stars - Like being bludgeoned with a sack full of molassesIf stoned zombies played pissed off death metal, it would most likely resemble the formidable tar pit rock of Warhorse. Stumbling inebriates attempting to walk the line between doom metal and pot rock have forever blurred the distinction between the genres with each accidentally inspired step, and it's in their still fresh path that Warhorse prepare for battle. With who seems to be a moot point. These boys are just looking for a fight. "As Heaven Turns To Ash" appears to be burning on a colossal roundup of the world's remaining fossil fuels, belching fire and spitting acid from the depths of a brimming smokestack. The semi-acoustic interludes "Amber Vial" and "Dawn" by comparison can only be mourning the fact that current technology does not allow the band to get any heavier. So fill the bong one last time and raise a toast to Armageddon.
-Jeremy Ulrey "Bangyrmfhead" February 10, 2004 (from Amazon )
  • (Review of As Heaven turns to Ash)
5.0 out of 5 stars Heavy, Heavy, Heaviest I bought this simply from a recommendation that it was similar to Electric Wizard, and also because of the sticker on the front that said "Heaviest debut of the Millenium". That is definately true. While the music is akin to Electric Wizard more that any other band, I have to say that the album sounds much less rough, much more polished than any of the Electric Wizard albums. Also they break up the lengthy, doomy vocal tracks with surprising and almost beautiful musical interludes. An impressive mix of great musicianship and super-heavy riffs. One of the best albums in the genre I've ever purchased, and definately the heaviest.
-Aaron G. Rhoads "aerosmith5" May 7, 2001 (from Amazon )
  • (Review of As Heaven turns to Ash)
5.0 out of 5 stars An unknown gemLast week, I was browsing at my local music store for something to spend a store credit on. I went in looking for an album by any one of three bands (Amorphis, Lair of the Minotaur, Wolves in the Throne Room) and found nothing. On my way out, I found this CD, under the wrong artist, with "USED" stickers covering the name of the band. I had never heard of Warhorse before, but my doubts were erased when I looked at the spine at saw 2 very important words in my decision to buy it: "Southern Lord". To put it simply, Southern Lord is amazing. Not many seem to know it, but for such a small label, they have quite a collection of quality bands on their label. So, immediately interested but not knowing what to expect, I bought "As Heaven Turns To Ash...". The verdict? It was a good decision. Warhorse was (unfortunately, they seem to have disbanded around 2002) easily comparable to an American version of Electric Wizard. They combine crushingly heavy, slow riffs with "tunnely"/"spacey" vocals. Warhorse takes this proven formula and does it well. Also added in are acoustic passages and several instrumentals. There's not much else that can be said of "As Heaven Turns to Ash...". If you like doom metal, buy it. If you've never heard it, try it. If you don't like it, try it anyway. It may be your gateway to better music.
-Z. Stern June 9, 2008 (from Amazon )
  • (Review of As Heaven turns to Ash)
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly fantastic specimen of heavy stoner rock.Most of the reviews posted cover the basics of how I feel about this band/album. To surmise: crushing, fantastic, technical, and utterly unforgetable. My personal favorite is Scrape. The lyrics are simple but ingenius. The riffs are titanic. The middle has this mellow bluesy interlude and then right at minute nine it comes in with the heavy riffs and this pale-toned stoney laid back flaring solo that is amazing. Simply an album any fan of the stoner rock/doom genre can not be without.
-A. Nonimowse. "bomber214" March 5, 2005 (from Amazon)
  • (Review of As Heaven turns to Ash)
4.0 out of 5 stars Heavy is as heavy does
Okay, nobody is going to be reading this by accident. Warhorse are on Southern Lord records, so they are, of course, extremely heavy. Stupendously heavy.
"As Heaven Turns to Ash ..." is (within its genre) a truly fine album. The production is suprisingly crisp. The sound is fairly uniform, as is usually the case with doom and stoner bands, but the production here lets the smaller variations in guitar tone and vocal inflection stand out.
The easy comparison is to Electric Wizard, but this stomps all over EW's best. Short, quiet instrumental breaks pop up throughout the album to let you catch your breath. The "real" songs are long, often droning, but full of complex dynamics. The guitar solos (and there are some, which is not usual for this kind of stuff) are quite smart and effective, not just "watch me" wankery. The vocals come awful close to the death metal "I gargle battery acid for breakfast" impenetrability, but pull up just short. Listen close and you can probably make out most of it. The CD booklet actually contains all the lyrics, if you are feeling lazy.
Extra cudos for those lyrics! Cryptic and impressionistic, using the usual "heavy" types of subject matter, but avoiding Sabbathian retread type cliches.
These guys belong in the same category as a band like Opeth, making complex rewarding music within a genre often dismissed as boring and uniform. Very 'eavy, no reason to be 'umble at all.
-By Jim Francis  July 20, 2003 (from Amazon )
  • (Review of As Heaven turns to Ash)
As opener, "Doom's Bride", begins its excruciating death-crawl, WARHORSE pummel the listener with some of the most crushing, sinister Death-Doom you'll ever hear. If you're not already a hardcore Doom Metal-fan, then chances are you'll get lost in this creeping swamp-monster-beast of an album.
But if you like your Doom agonizingly slow and bitter, without a trace of hope left in the universe, then "As Heavens Turn To Ash..." is your apocalyptic nightmare come true.
For dedicated Doom-fans a 10, for me...
-Eric (The Metal Observer)
  • (Review of As Heaven turns to Ash)
This is another very very heavy release, more in the Doom metal realm, rather than the desert-stoner rock genre that they are sometimes put in. Seems that the bands in this genre are really crossing over though. It is nice to see the band mixing up short melodic pieces with the brutal slow heavy stuff. It gives you a bit of a breather. I really don't care much for the vocal deliver (sort of the growling death metal style vocals). The riffs are just as heavy or heavier than the Electric Wizard but the production is not so muddled and there are guitar solos, but they are not much to my liking. Sometimes the band tries to get into a groove and pick things up but usually slows back down to a slow grind and it all just sounds too much alike. I heard these guys were great live.
-Scott Heller ( Aural Innovations )
  • (Review of As Heaven turns to Ash)
Warhorse's first full-length album, As Heaven Turns to Ash..., is slow-paced and well executed. Obvious influences include the likes of Sabbath, EyeHateGod, and Sleep, but the Warhorse trio hacks out their own unique sound, creating a sonic tension that few bands pull off effectively.
Warhorse's blend of stoner/doom ranges from super-heavy to subdued. Rather than advancing a brick wall of audio toward the listener for 60 minutes, Warhorse turns down the full stacks to let flourish pleasing sounds from bongos, chimes, and other acoustic instruments. That's not to say Warhorse doesn't know when to extinguish the incense, lace up the shit-kickers, and maul you with a guitar sound so deliberate and beyond "in-your-face" it hurts.
And not only do the fellows in Warhorse churn out the guitar (and bass) plenty thick when it counts (usually after a pretty-sounding intro or interlude), every plodding kick drum hit, every cymbal crash, and every second of warped guitar feedback comes across with gusto.
Gritty vocals, although at first causing more of a wince than a nod, complement the music well. Overall, the music stays simple in terms of guitar parts and rhythm, yet varied in terms of the spectrum of instruments (including a brief piano part) Warhorse employs. If you need a refreshing blow to the base of your skull, kick back, flip on a blacklight, and let As Heaven Turns to Ash... run its course.
-Liam Deely ( Maelstrom )
  • (Review of As Heaven turns to Ash)
After giving the matter long and serious thought (that is, daydreaming for about 5 seconds flat…), I came to the conclusion that doom is all about head-space. I mean, if there’s one metal subgenre that’s totally formulaic, that’s doom: it’s got slower than slow rhythms, it’s got guitars and basses than sound like horny brontosaurs, it’s got singers that screech or howl or growl about what a misery life is and, please, bro, pass me the bong/roach/needle/bottle so that I can stave off the pain. So, for the music to work, there needs to be a certain, ah, vibe to it, a certain something that’s not easily described or defined, but that, when there, creates the aforementioned head-space into which the listener can be immersed and let to wallow.
It’s this head-space that separates good doom from run-of-the-mill doom and it’s exactly this head-space that defines great doom from good doom. For example, Thergothon, for all their OTT antics, is a great doom band, as it creates with its music said head-space of cosmic despair. Burning Witch is great doom, as the music creates a head-space of self-destructive abandon. St. Vitus is great doom, as the music creates a head-space of total don’t-belong-nowhere desperation. Khanate is great doom, even if just for the unbridled, passionate hatred that radiates from their music. And Warhorse is great doom, as their music creates a slowly moving havoc of psychedelic-inspired, who’s-gonna-live-tomorrow head-space that’s in equal measures desperate, enticing and repulsive.
Coming from Worcester, Massachusetts, Warhorse tapped the rich doom vein of the past (Black Sabbath, Trouble, Pentagram, St. Vitus, The Obsessed, et al.) for inspiration, but seemed to go a little further back, to the days when there was no heavy metal to talk about, to find ideas of, ehm, embellishing their music. To me, “As Heaven Turns to Ash” is a landmark recording as it seemingly combines elements of modern doom (the snarling downtuned rumble of the guitar, the almost-unmelodious riffing, the tortured vocals, the hollow drum sound), with ideas of what constitutes heavy music laid out back in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
The basic layout of the music is what one would expect from a modern doom metal band: the guitars have a super-fuzzy, ultra-heavy sound, the bass is distorted and downtuned almost to subsonics, the vocals are raspy howls, usually buried waaaaaay low in the mix and used mainly as another part of the instrumentation and the drums sound hollow and slower than a one-breath-away-from-extinction mammoth. So, as far as the basics are concerned, everything is as it should be. The first surprise, though, comes with the first guitar solo, which is more reverbed and flanged that the law normally allows, tinting the song (“Doom’s Bride”) with a bizarre psychedelic sheen, that, surprisingly, works just fine within the premise of the track.
This trend continues throughout the whole record, with some other kinks thrown in the mix for good measure: some (pretty slow) Sabbath-via-Obsessed grooves, some acoustic detours, some more quasi-psychedelic touches here and there (e.g., a song intro with the guitar sounding sitar-like). But, the main goal of Warhorse remains the creation of total, suffocating heaviness and it’s generally successful. Sometimes the riffs sound as if ready to collapse under their own weight, but each time the band comes up with a new and interesting variation of the riff, or some other “trick” that boost the songs up with more life, achieving, thusly, the goal of creating the aforementioned head-space into which the listener can lose himself.
Warhorse didn’t last long –one E.P. later they split. But, if one likes doom in its more heavy and mind-fucking forms, “As Heaven Turns to Ash” is required material. The head-space created here by Warhorse is a huge yawning pit of blackness. It’s one’s decision whether one would plunge into it or not, but I would suggest that taking this chance may be more rewarding than avoiding it…
-Khlysty 27/05/10 ( Global Domination )
  • (Review of As Heaven turns to Ash)
Simply put, Worchester, MA, doom trio Warhorse is heavy as fuck. Crushing, intestinal moving doom metal is something that only a few bands do remarkably well – Cathedral’s first demo and album, the last two Sleep albums, Burning Witch, Grief and Electric Wizard’s albums immediately come to mind – and As Heaven Turns To Ash sees the trio ascend to those same heights.
Building slowly from the quiet, pensive opening instrumental “Dusk” straight into the nine minute plus dirge of “Doom’s Bride,” the band hits its stride and locks into a repetitive heavy hook and never looks back. Led by the spot on, heavy hitting drum style of Mike Hubbard (ex-Infestation), who plays it relatively simple but pounds hard throughout, the trio works really well together at locking into a groove and staying with it, something which I feel is an absolute necessity for this style of music to make the most impact. The tempo change around the five minute mark of “Doom’s Bride” is done perfectly and shows just how effective they are at getting into the zone.
Vocally, bassist Jerry Orne’s style is closest to that of Sleep’s Al Cisneros on that band’s defining moment, Jerusalem. His phrasings are done primarily in a monotonous tone, which manage to make the lyrics seem even that much more menacing than they really are. Hearing him bark out lyrics like “Altar of dawn, bury me in light / Crimson eclipse, Blood and Body ignite” (from “Lysergic Communion”) is enough to make a doomhead really smile and take notice.
The most outstanding accomplishment on the record, however, has to be the band’s ability to travel from quiet introspective parts to crushing heaviness and back within a single song. They manage to shift dynamics with such ease that it is a real delight to participate in the journey. The band is currently on the road in North America with Electric Wizard and judging from both band’s latest discs it may be the best underground doom tour in a long time.
-Sean Palmerston September 29th, 2001 ( Teeth of the Divine )
  • (Review of As Heaven turns to Ash)
Whenever I feel like I have a grasp on things, something always comes around the corner and blindside me wholly. I imagined that I had covered all the bases in the fucking heavy doom, the bigger ones in any case, Electric Wizard, Cough, Sourvein, Ahab, Ramesses, Khanate, Graves at Sea, but as hard as I try, I’ll have to admit I don’t think I’ll ever get a complete hold on the ever-expanding swamp of heavy doomage (that’s right I invent words too).
Profound Lore has been a label critics and fans alike have been swooning over for the past year, with myself being no exception. They have positioned themselves at the forefront of all things extreme, and it isn’t unfounded especially when you take a quick glance over their roster, they have a fantastic blend of extreme royalty and up-and-comers: Agalloch, Cobalt, Coffinworm, Hooded Menace, Portal, Vasaeleth, Subrosa, Worm Ouroboros, Yakuza, Yob, etc.
For me, it is a story that’s been told before, and that in perspective Profound Lore have only just hit their stride in the last two years, whereas if you take a look at the previous golden boys Southern Lord, you may realise that the purer pedigree is elsewhere. Southern Lord may not have had as sublime a 2010 as they have done in previous years, sure they did have some cracking releases Nails, The Secret just to name two, but they didn’t reach the heights of Profound lore did. But it is a long game and Southern Lord already have some brilliant records out, I’m looking at Earth’s ‘Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light’ and Weedeater’s long awaited and oddly titled ‘Jason… The Dragon’.
However, as I have said, I think that Southern Lord has the purer pedigree regarding numerous past releases that are now considered classics of the genre, I’m looking at Goatsnake’s ‘Flower of Diesease’, Boris’ ‘Absolutego’ and ‘Amplifier Worship’, Sunn o)))’s landmark discography and, the record I put forth and highlight for you today, 2001′s Warhorse and their debut record ‘As Heaven Turns Into Ash’.
If you remember my previous post about how sometimes all you need is to hear the guitar tone to know if you’re gonna enjoy a band, well this was one of those instances for me. I already held a preconception along with high expectations for this record before I gave it a spin. It had been priorly dubbed to me as the American Dopethrone, which I gathered to be quite a claim. In hindsight I believe that As Heaven… isn’t exactly in that kind of elevated tier. If the hierarchy was to resemble monarchy then Dopethrone would be King, then As Heaven… would a notable, self-edifying prince, a prince you would love to be crowned king if the king wasn’t already sat on his (dope)throne…. heh heh….
Back to that damn tone. Warhorse produce a tone I like to imagine with. If turned up loud enough, how many people would crap their pants just due to the sheer depth of the tone? I know I would. The tone actually contradicts the cold and downcast atmosphere Warhorse conjure as it is warm and huge, and is probably a big reason as to why they fall in to comparison with Electric Wizard, albeit they produce form rather different standpoints. Electric Wizard are coarse and humongous and spiral out of control. Warhorse are oppressive, they sit on your chest, to use a much-loved cliché, they drag you down to the depths.
It is Warhorse’s implement huge lunging grooves that are their best assets, borrowed from at-the-time label mates Goatsnake, of course Sabbathian riffs are worshipped by both bands, Warhorse produce some of the finest doom riffing I think Southern Lord will ever see.
On a different note, I do find that the vocals are the weak point here, they do little and have little range. Attempting to convey a cold and at times creepy atmosphere would have benefited by mixing up the vocals, unintelligible whispers, high shrieks, obviously it depends what you have in the vocal departments arsenal but I think it would have been beneficial to the record. It is the vocals and the time-wasting interludes between the great chunks of meaty riffy greatness that lets this record down and this is why it has to act as a pretender to the throne.
Warhorse is a forgotten Southern Lord gem and I stumbled upon on recent excavations of the labels back catalogue. It is one of the factors that prove Southern Lord have the purer blood in all things extreme, and I’ll have to quote them on this one and that Warhorse’s As Heaven Turns Into Ash turned to maximum volume yields maximum results.
-Gaia March 27th, 2011 ( Stoner Sunday )