DROWN AND BURIED
Horse Latitudes have their roots deep down in cold and dark Finland and If there was a competition about gloomiest underground band of the year, I bet they could compete with the most evil funeral doom bands out there. I read at various places that these guys have taken their name from a Doors song, but I guess they just wanted to use the meaning of the term. This is one of the band names that perfectly fits the band. For those who don't know, Horse Latitudes or Subtropical High are subtropical latitudes between 30 and 35 degrees both north and south. This is a still and empty region. For example, the Sahara Desert in Africa. I tell you this just to try to prepare you for the sound of the album.
The feeling one gets from listening to this band is bleak and nihilistic. There is no single ray of sunlight in this record. As you may have noticed, the use of guitar is not present, only two basses. I, as a fan of bands like OM (which relies mostly on their bass for music completeness) was instantly interested to hear what these people have done with the usage of the two bass guitars. I am very glad to say I was not disappointed at all, because this is one of the darkest records I've listened in the last few years. The music on 'Gathering' is just as simple as the cover of it and the name of the record. But just as them, it is as mysterious. The vocals are clear, but not in the way one imagines clear vocals. They are distant and miserable and at times I have the feeling that I'm listening to a priest chanting. This is actually the best part of the record for me - the vocals. Despite the fact that the vocalist sounds very blue and miserable, he somehow managed to sound epic at the same time, which gives the music eerie and high feeling, especially on "Seas of Saturn". The song name is very appropriate for it, because listening to it really feels like swimming in a cold nothingness. The bass guitars hit like a gravedigger's spade digging into the sad and lonely ground. What I really like about the whole conception of the album is that it has some tribal and pagan thing to it, even if this is not said with actual words or not shown directly as many modern folk bands do. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing folk in the music of Horse Latitudes, I just want to say that for me it feels like listening at a tribal meeting. All the songs are longer than 9 minutes (except for the last one). This is one more thing that helps you to drown in the atmosphere.
I think that the direction Horse Latitudes have taken from their debut is really promising and I sure as hell enjoyed everything they put out so far. There are certain things that can be improved, for example the drumming should be more audiable and varied, because right now it is rather monotonous and repeated. Also, more variations at the bass chants could do very well.. for instance, a change in the dynamics. Still, this is one pretty decent record for the lovers of slow and heavy music.