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Troubled Horse - Revolution on Repeat

Troubled Horse
Revolution on Repeat
by Daniel Stefanov at 09 August 2017, 7:28 AM

"Look at my horse, my horse is…" troubled. And rightfully so, as time seems to be flowing backwards in Sweden, apparently, with the recent boom in modern-sounding, yet old-school at heart rock bands, one of the most notable of which being the aforementioned TROUBLED HORSE. The country that used to drive music revolutions in the second half of the recently deceased 20th century, seems to be in full retrolution, or - more appropriately expressed - "Revolution on Repeat". This being the second album of the already pretty experienced and notorious Swedes, coming after their impressive 2012 debut "Step Inside", the expectations are running high. The album flashes us with an exceptionally, truly exceptionally detailed cover art, showing an apparently troubled horse leading a rather diverse crowd of flag-waving urban rebels under a beautiful starry sky with just a dash of abstraction and post-impressionism. Giving credit where credit is due, that is one hellishly memorable album cover. However, TROUBLED HORSE would be wise not to embed that in all its glory on a regular MP3 file from now on, as the huge size of the image causes problems, the MP3 is not meant to carry images of that magnitude. Anyway, after fixing the technical issues, let's dive straight into the music!

The album starts with full throttle on the energetic and powerful track "Hurricane", which shows that the style of the Swedes hasn't changed much in the last half decade. There are minor differences compared to "Step Inside" - the vocals sound more raw and unconventional, and maybe, just maybe the composition displays more comfort and confidence, but the style is more or less the same old-school 70's rock with modern undertones, and TROUBLED HORSE are right "in the eye of the hurricane" with it. "The Filthy Ones" adds even more retro vibe, closer to the rock'n'roll of the American 60's at first, but diving into heavier territory with its distinctly early heavy metal mid-section. "Which Way to the Mob" is a melodic and catchy tune with barely noticeable shades of renaissance folk rock. "The Haunted" is the centerpiece of the album, showing the known power of delivery of Martin's vocals over darker and heavier baseline and a dominating rhythm section. The song is split in several distinct sections, each carrying a different atmosphere, each being interesting and original in its own unique way. "Desperation" mixes softer melodies with a more country-sounding vibe to create a pleasant, but somewhat drawn out relief of the constant energetic track that the album has been assaulting us with till now, however it is immediately followed by the probably most energetic, albeit not entirely meaningful track of the record - "Track 7". I had not heard WARREN ZEVON’s "My Shit’s Fucked Up" before this cover, and I must say I prefer the cleaner, more serious sound of the original. "Let Bastards Know" is a chaotic experimental track that starts promising and has some good moments, but overall feels like it doesn't know what it wants to do with them.

The album closes on the very different atmospheric track "Bleeding", which is my favorite track on the record, as it shows depth of emotion and richness of atmosphere that none of the other tracks even suggested, even the mellow "Desperation" felt simplistic and shallow, but "Bleeding" is a whole other story. My only remark is that the vocal approach maybe should have been different for this track - less whimpering and screaming and a more serious, calm, deep vibe. But that is a minor issue, especially since the final four minutes of the track are full-on heavy instrumental. "Revolution on Repeat" is a good, however potentially challenging album. TROUBLED HORSE are straying a bit from what we've come to expect of Scandinavian retro hard rock, and have clearly defined their own style. The energy is running high throughout the record, but the songs have some mysterious melancholy to them, sense of… well… trouble. Even the best and most upbeat songs did not feel "fun", which eliminates half of the reasons to listen to old-school rock in 2017. However, there is a lot of atmosphere and originality to be found in "Revolution on Repeat", which makes it an undoubtedly good album.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Memorability: 9
Production: 10

4 Star Rating

1. Hurricane
2. The Filthy Ones
3. Which Way to the Mob
4. Peasants
5. The Haunted
6. Desperation
7. Track 7
8. My Shit's Fucked Up
9. Let Bastards Know
10. Bleeding
Martin Heppich - Vocals
Mikael Linder - Guitar
Tom - Guitar
Jonas - Drums
Record Label: Rise Above Records


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