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Hella - Hold Your Horse Is CD (album) cover




Post Rock/Math rock

3.70 | 29 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Hella's debut album is a statement to the world of Avant-Garde music. Until I heard this album, I never thought I would listen to such manic and insanely intricate and dissonant music, but now that I have, I think I am a better person. Hold You Horse Is shows the strengths of the two members of Hella. The drumming is fast, furious, and insanely complex. The guitars are dissonant, heavy, and all over the place. The music here is essentially video game music given a rather large dosage of anabolic steroids... the result? 34 minutes of pure mayhem, excitement, chaos, and most importantly, fun music. Who can enjoy such stuff? Not everyone, that's for sure. But for those who can find enjoyment in this music, you couldn't have done any better.

The D. Elkan opens the album with some very electronic, very video game like, music, it's a very misleading introduction, because after this 43 second track, the real fun starts. Biblical Violence begins the manic drum and guitar maelstrom. The riff on this one is a great ascending single note and chord progression with some terribly precise, almost Christian Vander-like, drums in the background. It's a nice introduction to the core sound of the album. During points of this album, you may think that there is bass guitar, but the fact of the matter is, that there is no bass on this album. Been a Long Time Cousin begins with a screeching guitar riff that quickly turns to a fast paced, manically charged tune that really takes shape rather quickly. The guitar breakdown is quite stunning, with some rather impressively quick playing on the part of Spencer Seim. There's a riff in this song that is quick brilliant too, a bit uplifting if you ask me, around the 2:30 mark.

Republic of Rough and Ready has essentially become a slogan for the group nowadays. The very muddy intro is complimented by some slower sections followed by mildly faster sections. It shows that Hella can play slower stuff, but there's a necessity for there to be faster stuff in between. It's also a prime example of how intricate the guitars can get, almost Robert Fripp on Fracture intricate, and what is there not to love about that? 1-800-Ghost-Dance begins with some great riffing and drumming, one of the best things they came up with for this album. In fact, this is my favorite song on the album. I love the trills in the beginning and the dissonant chords that follow. The guitar on this track can make even the most technical of guitarists cry for their mothers.

Brown Metal begins with a muffled guitar tone that blares rapid fire notes with some banging percussion in the background. The song takes final form towards the middle, when some well timed beeps and electronic sound effects bring in the precise and well timed snare beats. The drums finally kick in and the song comes full circle as it ends at the 3:54 mark. Cafeteria Bananas begins with some whooping noises and then some manic guitar and drums (as always, if you haven't noticed by now). It doesn't really go anywhere special and it sounds no different than many of the tracks on the album.

City Folk Sitting, Sitting is the longest song on the album, at a whopping 7:06. The song has a mellower feel in the beginning when compared to the rest of the album. An interesting riff carries the song along until around the first minute, when a very bass guitar like tone-wise riff comes into play. The song then becomes interlocking sections of chaos and more melodic (if there is any true melody at all) sections. Better Get a Broom! ends the album, and it really ends the album with a bang. A droning guitar beat and some manic breakdown sections and guitar/drum interplay is what you can find here. It ends the album in a completely fitting fashion, with many twists and turns until it finally ceases from life and you're left wondering what in the hell you just listened to.

Overall, Hella's debut album is a very strong opening effort for the Sacramento, California, duo. Between this and their next studio album, The Devil Isn't Red, they released many singles. This is a great place to start if you're just getting into Hella, though their best piece was yet to come, the dual disc and ambitious/adventurous Church Gone Wild/Chirpin' Hard. But this album is no slouch, it's loads better than their sophomore effort, as that album seems to be almost exactly the same stylistically as this one. Overall, though, I have no real gripes except some of the songs tend to drag and sound very similar to one another. In the end, I give it a 4.5/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 4/5 |


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