Album Review, Dead Horse Trauma's Tellus Hodiernus Caducus
by G Michael Peter - The Bigfoot Diaries
Most music pundits have declared that the age of the album is gone, and that CD's or Vinyls will remain soley as collectors items. Truelly a sad thing to believe. Owning an album gives you so much more than just the music. It gives you a package of artwork, linear notes, and most of all a glimpse into the minds of the artists that one simply does not get with just a digital copy. I'm not going to use the typical grading scale of x out of five stars or numerical value out of ten, because most of the time people who read reviews simply skip past what is being said and just look for the award. Instead, what I am aiming to do is view Tellus Hodiernus Caducus (THC from now on) as a whole: art, lyrics, and of course the actual tunes. My association with the DHT guys is a known fact and if you are worried about bias, eat it, I'm not going to praise a friend if there is nothing to praise, however, I truelly believe that this is DHTs finest work to date and its a welcome reprieve from your standard local fare.
We'll start with the actual package. I love the digipack design, and the actual texture of the case itself is smooth. I mean, really smooth. When I first pulled it out the cellophane, I was shocked. It's not your typical glossy cardboard or your dry and scratchy kind either, it's that happy medium. The cover art is magnificent and really sets the tone for what you are about to listen to. The art, done by drummer Jason Handy, shows a map of the world with bugbombs(?) raining down from the sky (an allusion to the first track or nineth track maybe?) and the colors he chose are eye catching. It's not your typical metal band art work, there was some serious thought put behind it and it shows. The albums booklet is equally colorful, using reds, yellows, and black to draw you in with some lyrics in bold and others in all capitals to make the listener focus in on certain parts. Well done.
The lyrics/vocals. I'm not going to spend to much time here, maybe if I'm given a chance to pick lead singer Eric Davidson's brain some night over what he writing and trying to convey, I can revisit this. What I will say is that the sense of urgency created by his lyrics is crucial to this albums over all sound. When he screams you can really feel it, which is most important for a vocalist in a metal band-it has to be believable, and it is. Even with the clean vocals you can hear that urgency, but in a different sense. When he sings the clean parts, it's as if hes just barely brushings upon what he is trying to get across until the bottoms drops out and his trademark bark sends the message a grand slam home. Major props to the singer on this album. His depth as a vocalist has grown tremendously since the last release and more specifically, the first. With The Infestation, it seemed like there were just two Mr. Davidsons, the screamer and the singer. On THC, he moves beyond the good cop/bad cop routine and really opens up his voice, bringing new styling to his clean singing and the extradionarely refreshing lows that completely catch you off guard (see track five, The Great Dissolve).
The tunes/riffs. And holy balls are there riffs on this album. They never stop coming, like a bludgeoning one two punch from a heavy weight boxer, this album steam rolls right over you and everything in its path. The guitar tones are crisp and clear, no clutter. You can almost know fret for fret where guitarist Seth Peters is at on his axe, but by no means am I saying that the riffs are simple. On the contrary, this album sees growth from him as well. Similar to the previous record in regards to the vocal department, The Infestation had excellent hooks and was executed well, but it seemed like some of the songs could have been interchangeable-or maybe there wasn't enough dynamic clarity, but not with this album. THC has that perfect balance between all out brutal and just enough dynamic range to keep you actively listening and engaged to whats going on. Listen to the chorus on Mr. Critical and you'll hear the most mathy and dynamic part they've ever written. It's synchopation WILL make your head bob and you hips sway. Possibly the highlight of the album from the guitar stand point would be the last 30 seconds of Sinister and how it bleeds beautifully into Media Showers, where the latter track takes on such a noodley part even I had a hard time following it (this is a good thing). Breakdowns? Oh, yeah, lots of break downs, but by no means are they the boring ones coming on the first and third hit, instead you have such a tight rythm section here most of the time you won't even notice that what you're hearing is a break down. And they're heavy, but not just for the sake of being heavy, they honestly feel like they're meant to be there and add significantly to the songs. But DHT isn't merely conent to be a metal band, enter keyboardist/sampler Joey Vice. You'll hear him immediately at the start of the album, with little flourishes here and there, but where he really stands out is what you are most likely to miss. Little bits of chatter that you can just barely hear in the left speaker, or that high pitched whistle (originally I thought I had a tumor and needed to go to the doctor, nope, the band really just wanted to mess with me and put a dog whistle in the song-thank you to Watson, the golden retriever for catching that one). Mr. Vice brings just enough texture and mood to the album to seperate them from their peers without being overly gimmicky.
So, with all this praise you are probably wondering if I'm going to say anything condescending, or if I'm really just a biased piece of shit. Well, you're in luck, because there hasn't been a perfect album since Tool's Lateralus, which came out ten years ago. My only true complaint would be the mixing, which is no fault of the bands. It just seems a little thin at certian points in the album, and feels very similar to Lamb of Gods As the Palaces Burn. I've heard a majority of these songs live, so I know how thick and crunchy they are, just kind of wish it would have translated a little more onto the album.
With that aside, this is an excellent album that has more to offer with each listen. I highly recomend however that you go to a show and see them live if you want the full experience.
Album Review - Tellus Hodiernus Caducus
-Shawn Fillmore AKA "Philly"
On July 16, Dead Horse Trauma or as their fans like to chant DHT, released their third full length album, Tellus Hodiernus Caducus or THC. THC is a ten track heavy metal industrialistic album with a dark overcast. Right from the start this album makes you move and throw your horns in the air with a chest compressing bass drop and neck breaking guitar.
This album features powerful lyrics and vocals by front-man Eric Davidson with a methodic mix of screams and harmony with the help of back up vocals and samples by Joey Vice. The song Disbelief features guest vocals by Myke Terry of Bury Your Dead. The finger bleeding rhythms and riffs by guitarists Seth Peters are dominant. The momentous drums of Jason Handy and the brute bass line of BJ Forst complete the formula for this album.
Those of you that like hidden stuff will not be disappointed with THC, I don't want to give to much away so let's just say, pay attention and don't be real quick to hit stop after the last song.
If you have followed this band as long as I have you have witnessed one of the greatest music evolutions in the midwest and it's just going to keep getting better. THC is pure midwest metal, it's in your face, it's well developed and put together with precision.
All in all this is a great album, one of those albums that you can listen all the way through without skipping a song. I look forward to hearing what the guys of Dead Horse Trauma come out with next.