Trends in music come and go. New genres spring up in all sorts of weird and wonderful ways. Change is constant. All this may have a ring of truth about it but one thing remains abundantly clear. Britain will always have a place in its record collections for metal. It just will. Come hell or hard, Brexit the UK will continue to enjoy a metallic taste whatever the musical whims of the day. The reason being that many of us, in our musical journey, will have had a hard rock phase. That phase, generally experienced by boys but not exclusively, will hold a special place in our hearts wherever our tastes take us. Thus we are always going to be suckers for something that hammers on those heart strings. The likes of Wolf Alice and Drenge are merely the latest of a long line of acts that prove this.
That list may have included Pulled Apart By Horses not so long ago but something went wrong along the way. With three albums under their belts, the band kind of fell apart. Uncertain about what they were doing and unsure where they were going they went to ground. After some considerable time out and a reshaping of the line up, the band (a drummer replaced - how very metal), Pulled Apart By Horses decided to go back to the future. They took themselves off somewhere remote, ditched the 21st Century technology and began to party like it was 1989. Now these ‘back to basics’ approaches are fraught with a particular danger. The hope is that the band in question can return to the original seam of their creativity and mine out some more precious material which puts everyone back in mind of the good old days. And that the good old days are now. Such moves are regressive in their nature and thus, more often than not, lead to material that is a pale imitation of what went before. A fading facsimile of a creativity that has passed and remains elusive and crushingly out of reach.
The Haze bypasses such worries with one very fine move - it is really good. It has a punky, punchy energy, it sounds taut, it has melodies, it has hooks galore and has bits to sing along to. All the songs weigh in at around three minutes meaning nothing gets a chance to outstay it’s welcome. This is no pretentious quest to return to some mythic source. This is four band mates playing their backsides off and having a great time along the way. ‘There’s still life in the old dog yet’ sings Tom Hudson on ‘Moonbather’ and you have to agree.
‘The Haze’, the song, kicks things off and is a broody, confident opener with its bruising basslines and throbbing rhythm boxing you around the ears to make you take notice. The disturbingly titled ‘Prince Of Meats’ is another highlight. A dense frantic opening gives way to some sparse guitar lines with Hudson offhandedly informing us ‘But I can’t save anyone’ as the torrent of sound returns to sweep us away. Ross Orton produces here (also known for his work with Drenge amongst others) and he really does get the best out of Robert Lee (bass) and Tommy Davidson (drums) throughout the record. Stand out track is ‘Lamping’ which features a towering psychedelic flavoured riff under which the track swells and falls whilst Hudson’s vocal takes on a more dreamy quality. There is more than a bit of early Black Sabbath about it, which is high praise indeed. ‘Dumb Fun’ twists and twirls between flat out energy and spiralling lines of guitar, leaving the record ending on a high.
If we need to be picky then you can level some criticisms at The Haze. At times it sounds a little too dense and samey. Some songs blending into others. The vocal occasionally a little too throat worryingly screechy. But that is a little like complaining that the sea is wet. Or salty. It what it is. This album knows what it wants to be and goes about it with great effect. There is no fakery or unnecessary novelty, it’s straight down the line of heavy rock. If this is your thing, then this WILL be your thing. This record will find a way into your heart and it will stay there. Pulled Apart By Horses have used The Haze to see clearly again. Let’s hope their vision is maintained for some time to come.