Posted by: Necci – Jul 26, 2011
These guys really want to be Alice In Chains circa Dirt. There's just no way to avoid it--from the downtuned dirge-metal riffage to the singer's grim, funereal baritone to a song called "Heroin Train," this whole album gives off an inescapable Dirt vibe. Which is not to say that it's terrible--A Pale Horse Named Death focus mainly on the darkest edge of that Alice In Chains sound, and at times get slow and swampy enough to evoke Eyehategod, at least in the riffing. However, they do their best work when they are more subtle about the Alice In Chains influences. When things get more overt, which is unfortunately most of the time, the quality drops noticeably.
On the aforementioned "Heroin Train," the lyrics, which may very well have been written with serious intent, nonetheless come off as over-the-top and silly. "Living here in the park in a cardboard box and I've got a can of cat food" is how the song begins, and while that situation could have been described in a convincingly harrowing manner by someone with more talent (perhaps the late Layne Staley?), in this case its tough not to be amused by the ham-fisted lyrics. Later, with the line "I see my girlfriend sucking someone else's dick," things just get outright gratiuitous. Again, with a bit more lyrical talent used to describe such a situation, it could have effectively put across the feeling of hitting rock bottom that the line is obviously trying to evoke. Instead, though, all it evokes from the listener is a cringe.
Other Alice-ish moments on this album are less ridiculous, but still probably don't serve A Pale Horse Named Death that well in the end. "Cracks In The Walls" sounds like a crossbreed of the Alice In Chains tunes "Junkhead" and "Angry Chair," with a chorus built around the wordless moaning of the Staley soundalike that fronts this band (Google tells me he's former Type O Negative drummer Sal Abruscato--how about that). However, despite every attempt at creating a foreboding atmosphere, it fails to transcend its influences. The more uptempo tunes on this album fare slightly worse, if anything, even when they don't have the unintentionally goofy lyrics of "Heroin Train." "Bath In My Blood" has a pretty good midsong breakdown, but the verses themselves sound too nu-metalish, like the band is trying for Alice In Chains but ending up with Godsmack (another band whose entire raison d'etre seemed to be mediocre attempts at ripping off Dirt).
It would be a lie to say that And Hell Will Follow Me is an outright bad record. It's not terrible by any means--if you dig bands like Alice In Chains and Eyehategod, it will probably work all right as background music. However, by failing to rise above their influences and bring something original to this work, A Pale Horse Named Death have created a record so obviously derivative that no fans of the genre who give their full attention to And Hell Will Follow Me will be able to avoid the comparisons. As one of those fans, my strongest reaction to this LP is a powerful desire to listen to Dirt by Alice In Chains. In fact, I think I'll do that right now.
By Andrew Necci