Hordak - Padre€6.99
- Epic feeling in concise song lengths
- Skilled musicianship
- Great black/folk balance
- Spectacular album cover
- Singular tempo throughout
- Lackluster instrumental track
- Shares name with cartoon villain
So-called "pagan" metal can be a tricky beast. Ranging from dissonant black metal with the thematic lyrics buried under muddy production to blackened folk metal, you never know which you’re getting into until you hit the "Play" button. Fortunately, Spain’s Hordak lean heavily to the latter, which is more up my alley. The band presents their fourth album, Padre, and they pretty much nail it.
Now, since I grew up in the 1980s, I couldn’t help but conjure up Masters of the Universe-induced snickers when I first saw the band name. However, once the music started up, I realized I needed to treat this more seriously.
Opener Ekleipsis — Devourer Of Gods builds from melodic strumming into a sprawling, mid-paced gallop. Alberto "Autumn" Garcia tears in with a raspy, near-spoken delivery that feels like narration over the soundrack playing behind him. There are some slick bass lines from Antonio Mansilla adding some weight to the track.
The second track, Bloodline Of The Wolves, contains some clean vocals from Wulfstan (Forefather). It’s more straightforward than its predecessor, but provides a nice bridge into Soaring which has a guitar solo from "Winter" that lives up to its name.
Additional contributors pop in throughout: Lavin Uruksoth (CrystalMoors) adds vocals on Father Sun — Father Dragon, Laura Camón Botella (CrystalMoors, Gathering Darkness) adds her violin skills to the title track, and José Luís Frías (Trobar de Morte, Folkearth) has a spectacular flute opening on the aforementioned Soaring.
Other album highlights include Father Sun — Father Dragon, which has an Amon Amarth feel to it and is probably the heaviest song on the album, and Padre, as the longest song on the album, it’s a sprawling epic with many different movements.
Despite the quality of the music on Padre, I wish Hordak would have used more tempo variation throughout the album. While marching rhythm is perfectly fine for this style, the individual tracks tend to blend into one another, making it difficult to recollect which song you’re listening to at the moment. I also wasn’t a fan of the acoustic instrumental track Sol, which seemed to suck some of the energy out of the album. Admittedly, these are minor quibbles on my part and probably just a matter of personal taste.
Only two of the ten songs cross the six-minute mark, which keeps everything relatively tight and the noodling to a minimum. If you’re looking for some epic-feeling metal without the extreme song lengths, Hordak is going to scratch that itch.
Special thanks to Transcending Obscurity PR for the complementary review copy.