Here we have the third full-length release from HORSE the band, self-proclaimed pioneers of the “Nintendocore” genre. But instead of the frenetic video game theme song covers of The Advantage (the other main Nintendo-inspired group out there), HORSE punish us with aggressive metalcore peppered with bursts of vintage console sounds. In actual fact, those old-school touches are only present on a few tracks of A Natural Death. With the exception of an attention-grabbing solo on “I Think We Are Both Suffering From The Same Crushing Metaphysical Crisis,” such sounds are used rather unspectacularly.
So what does that leave us with? Several songs are fairly straightforward in their fast, heavy attack, while elsewhere there are numerous exploratory moments. It seems to me like there could have been a lot more discretion in the track selection: at 16 songs, forced-artsy moments like “The Beach” (built around samples of someone crying) should have been easy cuts, but somehow they snuck in. The bouncy “Sex Raptor” incorporates elements of New Order and The Cure, but is too jarring a departure from the band’s metallic oeuvre. The horribly cheesy “Kangarooster Meadows” is just one more track better left unheard.
The album came along with a promo description, speaking of ‘epic soundscapes,’ evoking ‘the vastness and emptiness of the universe.’ However, its more inspiring moments—such as “I Think…” and its expansive range of sound, or the slow angst of “New York City”—don’t lock into any meaningful flow or concept. What HORSE needs here is more focus: either stick to simpler metalcore and curb the aspirations to high art, or fully plunge into experimentalism and leave behind all the one-dimensional riffs. The sad thing is, even in taking either of these approaches, what’s left of A Natural Death would be nothing to get terribly excited about.