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Horns & Hooves – I Am The Skel Messiah

Horns & Hooves
I Am The Skel Messiah
by Gary Hernandez at 20 August 2022, 12:35 PM

HORNS & HOOVES have a take on Black Metal that is befitting their city of origin, New York. We’ll call it sprawling, perverse, and entertaining in an adult way. The trio formed in 2013 and have one demo, one EP, and now one full-length album under their belt. The LP, “I Am the Skel Messiah,” was released June 17, 2022 via Invictus Productions. This is a band that I think a lot of people won’t want to like. From the over-the-top postering, to the crude themes, to the lyrical content, they evoke revulsion. But that’s their raison d'être, so damn it, you kind of have to give them credit for that. They are also very talented musicians and entertaining as hell, literally and figuratively.

I had to look up ‘skel.’ It’s a homeless person. Thank you, Internet. Yeah, so that explains the cover—a homeless Christ being crucified on a pile of junk cars and automotive debris. And he might be on fire, too, or that could be artistic effect. Notable in the background is the American flag, so some additional commentary there though it isn’t reenforced in the actual album content.

My favorite aspect of the band is Orobas on the drums. Riffs are up and down, vocals are varied and frenzied, bass is remarkably prominent with a distinct Hardcore vibe, but the backbone of it all is for me the drums. The production values are also surprisingly good. Lyrics. Yeah, the lyrics are what you might find scrawled in a bathroom stall in an abandoned subway in hell. Shocking. Witty in some ways, but mostly appallingly nasty.

Favorite tracks include the opener “Gape My Blackened Hearts.” This track, apart from its hilariously multi-innuendo title, is most notable for its incredible rhythmic sparring. The mastering is also really good. I make this comment because the production seems to vary with each track with some taking on the ‘single mic in the cellar’ vibe, others an analog 80’s Hardcore take, and still others are like an Prog engineer snuck in and took control. Other favorites are “Baphomet in Steel.” Again, Orobas steals the show on this one. And the title-track “I Am The Skel Messiah” which closes the album. I love the lo-fi acoustic interlude on this track which resolves into a full-scale NWOBHM spasm.

There are a few requisite interlude tracks as well as a load of spoken word samples from an assortment of porno flicks and such. Not sure if either tactic is meant to add credibility to the album as a more serious work, but they fail in that regard. They do however add atmosphere. That atmosphere will make you want to take a long shower with all the lights on and maybe even fully clothed, but it fits the album’s aesthetic.

I didn’t want to like this album at all, but it did grow on me . . . or in me. It’s all wrong but all so right. It deserves a 6.66 rating, but mathematically that would be too low, so 7’s all around. “I Am the Skel Messiah” won’t be getting any playtime on your local FM station, so if you are keen on some aberrant, soul-staining Black Metal, head over to Bandcamp or Invictus Productions for your orders.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1.  Gape My Blackened Hearts
2.  Baphomet in Steel
3.  Amphetamines and Red Molochian Dreams (Prelude to Gooning)
4.  Blasphemic Gooning
5.  Endless Rosary
6.  A Wailing, and a Weeping, and a Busting ov Cheeks
7.  Narcanaanite (The Infernal Dose)
8.  I Am the Skel Messiah
Salpsan – Guitars (lead), bass, vocals (additional)
Malebolge – Vocals (lead), guitars, bass
Orobas – Drums
Record Label: Invictus Productions


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