Emerging from the same pool that birthed artists as Phoxjaw, The St Pierre Snake Invasion, and even Idles, the Bristolian quartet Sugar Horse have already displayed the same fervent creativity and aptitude that made their peers so illusive. With this fact in consideration, it’s hardly a surprise the act have already made a great impact within the scenes and circles they run in, especially after violently introducing themselves last year with their debut EP Druj. However, Druj was merely that - a brief, yet memorable introduction. With their forthcoming sophomoric EP Drugs, one get’s intimately acquainted with Sugar Horse via an encounter that’s essentially hauntingly unforgettable.
Whereas Druj saw the relatively newly formed band expressing their ideals through a doomed post-metal aesthetic that was heavily reminiscent of acts such as Oceansize and Deftones, Drugs see’s the band rely less on their respective influences. Within the five brilliant tracks present here, Sugar Horse present a sound that’s far more personal, comfortable and to be put simply, sweeping. The glacial pace, doomgaze racket, genre dynamism and chokingly dense textures have remained, but they have been tailored to be as engulfing as possible, a sentiment proven by the EP opener and title track. It’s a colossal introduction to the newly bolstered sound that Sugar Horse utilise, with the track showcasing a refinement of the raw hulking doom that darkly crystallised on their previous work.
Those who have already experienced Sugar Horse or the work that inspired them won’t find any new musical surprises within this release, but what may shock or stun some is the way the band harnesses ambience and textures. As opposed to introducing and interweaving as many musical textures as possible, the band prove that when it comes to effectiveness, less is certainly more. The colossal be all and end all of the engulfing ‘Pity Party’ see’s Sugar Horse weaponise choking shoegaze and the borderline apocalyptic ‘Richard Branson In The Sky With Diamonds’ see’s them amalgamating sledging doom, scorched post-metal misery and heavenly vocal work – a combination that wouldn’t be out of place within the cornerstone of a Rolo Tomassi record - into a single barrage of sound. There’s no clumsily intermixed intricacies, no awkwardly clashing polyrhythms and no tangled textures here, just all consuming post-metal noise and majesty.
Even at there most composed and ethereal, the band still radiate a crushing and ominous aura. ‘When September Rain’, is a post-rock ode of heavenly and religious ambience yet it still sounds like the musical equivalent of the art of art of passing away. When compared to the devastatingly heavy nature of closer ‘Dog Egg’, the same dark and inherently violent atmosphere looms over, be it slightly more holistic and mulled over. Still, the way Sugar Horse project such dense ambience with screeching feedback, agonised reverb and singular suffocating textures is unprecedented and almost unmatched.
Much like their previous work so far, Drugs is a beautiful yet all annihilating release that is the polar opposite of disposable music. This is a release that initially demands your attention prior to rewarding you with hidden depth and secrets after repeat listens. All encompassing, majestically devastating and spectrally wonderful, Sugar Horse are clearly on the same road that their respective inspirations once travelled and are set for a greatness, completely regardless of the ongoing apocalypse in which they soundtrack.
Drugs is self-released April 17th. You can pre-order the record here.