Album Review: Forcefed Horsehead – Monoceros

Album Review: Forcefed Horsehead - Monoceros
Reviewed by Dan Barnes

Hailing from Oslo, Norway, Forcefed Horsehead have been recording and releasing product since back in 2011, but Monoceros is the band’s first full-length album. Mixing as diverse a collection of styles as death metal, black metal, punk, hardcore, post rock, prog and as many other genres as you could shake a stick at, Forcefed Horsehead is simply the madness of the modern world put to music.

Having previously shared stages with the likes of Cannibal Corpse, Rotten Sound and Gatecreeper, among many others, this Norwegian quintet have captured the sound of the inevitable apocalypse through their tales of apathy, greed, self-destruction and the collective annihilation of us all.

Cheery stuff then!

With that kind of pedigree it’s no small surprise Monoceros opens with a blast, wasting no time on the niceties of an introduction before commencing the playfully titled, Every Death You Take. Here, Forcefed Horsehead lay out the main talking points of this manifesto: it’s going to be fast, abrasive, uncompromising and throw you a few surprises as you go.

And that’s pretty much what Monoceros does. From the beginning it’s a feast of everything we love about the Grindcore genre: the dual guitars of Patrick Wivegh and Rikard Jonsson grind and groove to equal affect, while Arve Barsnes’ bass plays host with Kikken Vegsund’s rock-sold drum to stabilise the whole damned thing.

Album Review: Forcefed Horsehead - Monoceros

Dragged Back to Life is probably the only other pure-bred grinder as, everywhere else, Forcedfed Horsehead don’t seem to be able to resist tinkering with the formula a little. Unending Appetite, for all its short, sharp shock tactics cannot help but incorporating a few bars of swinging groove; Übernecro adds a little of the black metal to the proceedings, allowing the drum to groove as the guitars look to playing dirty-sounding triplets.

Novgorod is liable to damage PA system across the continent when it gets played, not least due to its massive beatdown, and Spell No Stones toys with choppy fat riffs while taking a more psychedelic approach to the wall of noise ethos.

Iri uses a simple, repeating riff to lodge itself into your brain; Futile adopts a far more modern aesthetic, blending the chaotic with the structured, occasionally giving way to moments of sheer insanity. And, let’s face it, if you Grind you’re going to owe something to Napalm Death and Monoceros’ debt comes in the shape of Ruins; built around the hoofbeats of the approaching End of Days and a dissonance, this track shows Forcefed Horsehead’s Punk roots to the max.

However, it’s not all about the Grind. In a Rut progresses in the very solid Death Metal guise but it is the central The Black Sun and the closing …And Then There Were None that are Monoceros’ most curved of balls and show the band have creativity and the minerals to use it in spades.

The Black Sun starts slow and sludgy, almost droning in its presentation, until it is the sort of terrifying track Primitive Man might create. Yet, overshadowing even that, the near ten-minute bludgeoning from the record’s coda is utterly unexpected and it where the Progressive Post Rock element find their home, nestling comfortably alongside the blistering aggression of what we’re heard so far.

Vocalist Audun Mehl delivers on every track and with every switch in styles, whether the guttural growls of the grinders or the misery of the sludgy doom, his is a consummate performance and the cherry on this particular cake.

This debut is long overdue and the range of ideas suggest Forcefed Horsehead will be back soon with more of the same – which will probably be something completely different. But we await that release with heightened anticipation.

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