When a three piece band comes along with two bassists among its number, then you cannot expect anything remotely light or airy. The delivery of Finland’s Horse Latitudes is slow, doom-laden and an ode to the apocalypse. In a comparative world Kongh and Terra Tenebrosa would be suitable candidates for Eurovision. Yes, “Awakening” is the musical equivalent of indigestion.
The painful experience starts with “Preparation”. As is so typical with this post-apocalyptic doom style, the big and drawn out chords deny progress, and equate to dragging a tractor through thick mud. As the bass rings out funereally, the drum adds grey colour. There are vocals but they are off beat and symbolise struggle and suffering. Somehow there is progress in all this, and it can be followed, otherwise it would be deadly boring and we’d die. While the vocalist utters his lines of torment, the crashing bass weighs us down with its black heaviness. This is the music of hopelessness. For a brief moment at the end of “Dissolution”, it almost breaks into a canter but the domination of the sludgy bass is overwhelming. The bells chime bleakly and the vocalist croaks on.
Slow and steady progress marks the beginning of “Profane Awakening”. It sounds as if it comes from another world. The mood darkens yet more and the crushing bass line offers doom. The vocals suggest gargantuan efforts. The track picks up in power but not for long. “Into the Deep” marks a slow and terminal death. Horse Latitudes are at their most hypnotic. The melancholy is profound and crystalised by the vocalist’s plaintive cries. It’s all drowned out by that bass. It seems to grind gradually to a halt. No movement, no hope. Progress is ponderous. Cymbals clash, while the vocalist wails discordantly through the darkest of dark clouds. By contrast “Among the Circles” starts with a more conventional military beat. It soon descends back into the standard murky gloom. The vocalist sounds put out by it all. There is a message in it somewhere but it’s all overshadowed by overpowering and tortuous gloom of nightmarish proportions.
The progress is painful and the atmosphere is largely the same. It’s tough going. “Awakening” emits power and darkness, so it’s more than unremitting apocalyptic doom. I’d suggest this is an album not particularly to be enjoyed, as it’s not about that, but to be indulged and appreciated.
(5/10 Andrew Doherty)