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Label: VS77 Records / Release date: 19th May 2023
A Horrible Death To a Horrible Man is of course a name you will know very well, unless you’re one of those freaks that don’t frequent Copenhagen’s Post-Metal scene. In other words: if you’re like me and have limited access to things happening in Denmark, then you’re likely to never have heard of these dudes before.
Ever since they first formed all the way back in 2014, A Horrible Death… have become standouts of the Danish Post-scene – although they’ve changed and experimented with their sound quite a bit along the way, to the point that they now claim to have “grown up”… – but they’ve yet to expand their horizons beyond the local scene. Finding clips, tracks, information or anything else online about this band has been extraordinarily difficult, which is quite refreshing in itself. I’ve missed bands that are ok with just playing gigs.
But that time is seemingly over as the band have already released their debut album, “Days Gone By”. This is meant to be the release that proves those 9 years spent playing pubs, clubs and God knows what other places, was not for nothing. This is the serious debut that hopes to establish Peter Strange, Jesper Hesselbech, Nick Ebert and Christian Lee as contenders to the throne of Scandinavian shoegaze.
“Days Gone By” consists of 6 tracks, all standing somewhere between 6 and 9 minutes long. It’s meant to be some sort of homage to life, love, loss and melancholia, and it’s impossible to say that it does not succeed. From the very first seconds of the album opener “Other”, this record establishes a clear and distinct melancholic atmosphere that is driven by a relentless wall of sound. There’s fast riffing and steady bass lines accompanied by groovy rock drumming that often floats over into Black Metal-style, and then there’s that voice. Peter Strange’s vocal performance is truly special as he somehow manages to resist the urge to ever cross over into Black Metal-country and instead defiantly sticks to his guns and delivers a stoic, almost disturbingly calm performance, even as the cymbals are being smashed around him and the guitars are having a fit.
I’m pretty much all-in from the very beginning of this album, but there’s no doubt that track 3, “First Light” is the standout song. The album opener does a great job in setting the tone of the album and whilst “Too Soon” carries that torch well, it’s not a standout song. “First Light” truly is standout in every way possible, but without feeling even slightly pandering or commercial. This is moody, sad, melancholic and beautiful Black Metal on the instrumental side, then you have the comforting, preaching and just relentless vocals on top and the result is marvellous.
“First Light” is by all means a track that will be on repeat for me over the next few months and it is undoubtedly the highlight of “Days Gone By”, but that does not mean that the album goes downhill from here. “Falls” is a completely adequate, but not very memorable follow up, whilst “Days Gone By” and “Breathe” combine for a 15-minute-ish long adventure that sort of just whisks you off your feet into shoegaze heaven, and then it’s over.
If you came into this wondering whether or not “Days Gone By” was worth roughly 45 minutes of your precious time, then the answer is a resounding yes. If there’s any part of you that even remotely aches for Shoegaze, Post-Metal, Black Metal or really anything in between, then you definitely do not want to miss out on this one, it very well might be your next favourite album.