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Warhorse - Warhorse CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.56 | 64 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars The liner notes credit Warhorse with talent and innovation, saying they were among the Heavy Rock bands of the early seventies and worthy of credit. When the first album was released under the Vertigo label, the band found themselves being compared to Black Sabbath, also on Vertigo. Heavy guitar aside, however, Warhorse sound nothing like Black Sabbath; Warhorse had a Hammond organ. In fact, if you want comparisons to contemporary heavy bands of the early seventies I would say look no further than Uriah Heep. There are several instances on this album the Warhorse sound very similar to the Heep, and during one track I couldn't help but think of Vanilla Fudge's album "Renaissance".

Two main differences, however, would be guitarist Ged Peck's playing style, which sounds very much as though he graduated from the Ritchie Blackmore School Of Guitar (with a C+). The resemblance to Blackmore's style and sound is notable on at least three tracks, especially on "Ritual", which has a guitar solo and rhythm quite similar to Deep Purple's "Wring That Neck" (almost a direct rip-off in one part). It should come as no surprise then to find DP's original bass player, Nick Simper, as the leader of the Warhorse group. Perhaps he just had to have a Blackmore-esque guitarist along with a Hammond organ and he may have loved playing "Wring That Neck" so much that he had to have a close facsimile to that song on his band's album.

The other distinguishable sound of Warhorse is the vocal effort of Ashley Holt. A guy who can scream out notes when he wants to, Ashley Holt has a distinct voice, though not always in a favourable way. On "No Chance" he sounds more like he's half reading, half singing in a bored tone. The lyrics sound equally boring. Ashley Holt generally does not have an exciting voice in my opinion, though when he gets going, as in "St. Louise", he can let it rip. I would like to add a favourable comment that goes to Frank Wilson's organ playing. Perhaps he is the most skilled musician in the band, though without the degree of precision and style of Jon Lord.

The album starts off a bit slow, meaning it doesn't seem to do anything exciting or interesting until the third track, "Burning", and then does alright for the next three tracks. My personal favourite is the final track "Woman of the Devil", which actually does sound a little like Sabbath near the beginning.This song takes its time to build and has some decent bass parts. Ashly Holt's screams are full of raw power but the mix on the album puts an echo on them as if to make him sound more like Ian Gillan than he is capable of doing on his own. Was Simper trying to compete with the Mark II lineup of his former band?

The liner notes suggest the band's lack of success can be blamed on poor timing with record deals and internal problems but to me they just don't sound as exciting as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple or Uriah Heep. I have gone back to listen to a few songs again recently, hoping my opinion would be more favourable this time round but sadly I still find most of the songs here only semi-inspired hard rock tunes that come across as vainly hoping to capture a slice of the Deep Purple market. It sounds derisive but that's my impression. Sorry Nicky.

FragileKings | 2/5 |


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