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Ancient Warfare - The Pale Horse (2015)
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Ancient Warfare - The Pale Horse (2015)

20-08-2015, 09:58
Music | Folk | Rock | FLAC / APE

Ancient Warfare - The Pale Horse (2015)

Artist: Ancient Warfare
Title Of Album: The Pale Horse
Year Of Release: 2015
Label: Atlas Records
Genre: Folk Rock, Female Vocal
Quality: 320 / FLAC
Total Time: 39:48 min
Total Size: 101 / 253 MB
WebSite: Album Preview


1. Darlin (4:09)
2. Dreamcatcher (5:31)
3. Gunsmoke (2:54)
4. The Last Living Trial (3:38)
5. Tusk & Mouth (4:16)
6. Lickin' Lies (3:30)
7. Rolling Tides (7:21)
8. Wintertimes (4:15)
9. Killa Man (Hidden Track) (4:14)

The band name and album title for Ancient Warfare's The Pale Horse suggests metal—something blackened, possibly from somewhere Scandinavian. But the band turns out to be a quartet based in Lexington, Ky. that trades in cinematic Americana. Focused around the songwriting, singing, and guitar playing of Echo Wilcox, Ancient Warfare take a well-worn form and invest it with some of the mystery of its best practitioners. From the start of the album, where a low guitar reverb effect leads to a quick pause before Wilcox simply sings the title word of the opening track, "Darlin'", there's a heavy-lidded mood at play the kind of slow intensity that can be terribly boring in the wrong hands, but The Pale Horse is immediately compelling. In the first song alone, there are quiet touches that emerge with time—how the violin part floats upward, the extra guitar notes picked out towards the conclusion—testifying to the quiet power of a carefully detailed performance.

Wilcox began Ancient Warfare as a solo project in 2010, with the encouragement of Shangri-La Productions' Duane Lundy, who serves as this record's producer and engineer. By now, she has assembled a powerful lineup: the muffled, reverbed punch of Emily Hagihara's drumming on "Dreamcatcher" loosely evokes "Be My Baby", while Wilcox intones "dream" like a woozy afterecho of the Everly Brothers, even as the arrangement gets noisier. Hagihara also contributes piano, bass, and vocals on nearly every track, while Rachael Yanarella's violin work serves as both melodic counterpoint and ghostly atmosphere.

But Wilcox remains the center of the band, exuding a cool confidence in her singing and playing. Hers is the kind of rich voice that blends beautifully into the arrangements even while you yearn to hear more of it on it's own. The entire album is a mood piece to some degree, but it never simply repeats itself: Sometimes it's as simple as a quiet key change or a shift from lyrics to wordless tones, as near the conclusion of "Tusk and Mouth". Never once does she sound like she is straining to get across.

Lyrically, her voice is still emerging, but even with slightly forced lines like "Kentucky's shades of grace," from "Lickin' Lies", she sells it with her detached cool. The less graceful turns of phrase are still of a piece with the impressionistic stories she weaves. Her vision of America is understated, laying somewhere between concrete and dreamscape and containing echoes of numerous previous decades. Depending on your angle of approach, you could hear Lee Hazlewood, Emmylou Harris's riffs on cosmic American music, the Walkabouts, Mazzy Star, Mojave 3. (The bandmembers themselves have namechecked figures like Aimee Mann, Patti Smith, Karen O, and the Pixies.) But despite all these other voices informing theirs, Ancient Warfare have hit upon a singular lonesome-highway energy, the kind that you can study but cannot fake.

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