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Gift Horse

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Album Review

Given how synth punk has long since been codified as its own approach, the career of Matt Garfield via the Mose Giganticus name is refreshing in its own embrace of synths and electronic instruments as the core for something much more epic in scope than someone trying to re-create the Screamers. The previous meditations on technology straight up in his earlier albums have been refracted into a bigger sphere, with Gift Horse tackling full on Christian mythology via a dialogue between Jehovah and Lucifer. While the album definitely has all the hallmarks of both metal in a broad church sense and is also something that sounds like it could only be created this century rather than beforehand, it's as rewarding to hear Garfield's work through the lens of any number of earlier sonic approaches, not simply metal, due to his varied touchstones. There's certainly a sense of prog that isn't quite the '70s variety throughout the album, whether heard in the spindly guitar lines at many points, not to mention what sounds more like a trebly keyboard riff on "White Horse" that, if anything, suggests some of what Rush were up to in the '80s. Similarly, the rough-voiced singing of Garfield, rather than the howling shriek of black metal or the blunt roar of any number of post-thrash vocalists, aims for an elegant stateliness in its relative restraint, mixed to intermingle with the arrangement rather than to overpower or drown in it. (The electronic distortion underpinning the vocals on "Days of Yore" and "White Horse" extends and intentionally twists rock's complicated relationship with instruments like the vocoder once again.) With this all said, there's still plenty of the straight-up brisk riffing and performing one would expect of the neo-thrash revival, as songs like "Demon Tusk" demonstrate.

Gift Horse, Mose Giganticus
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