"Thy Blackened Reign"

By Dr. Abner Mality

The Horde is no one trick pony! With their sophomore effort "Thy Blackened Reign", out on Stormspell Records, the Western Illinois band has declared that not only are they in the battle to the finish, they are in it to win! This new record is faithful to the barbaric spirit of "From Empires To Ashes" and manages to amplify all the positive attributes of that dynamic debut!

The energy of these four guys is amazing here. You can literally FEEL the will to kill blasting from the speakers as they attack their instruments. The Horde skirts the edges of death and thrash metal without entering that territory completely, but the power of their music puts many a thrash band to shame. They still have that "High On Fire meets Manilla Road" vibe but the ante is considerably upped. If the blazing anthem "Death Foretold" doesn't convince you, then the ferocious decapitation of the title track will force you to your knees. That song is just a whirlwind of sonic power! "Hell Beast of the Pale Frost" shows the most epic side to the band with a most excellent riff attack. Twin guitar melodies pop up frequently here and help connect the band to forefathers like Iron Maiden and even Thin Lizzy.

The rest of the tunes are equally as war-like with the exception of the brief instrumental "A Kingdom Cries". "Super Tusk", the story of a monster hog, might be my favorite Horde cut so far, with such a catchy chorus section. Duncan's snarling vocals again avoid being death grunts but keep the intensity. I could make some minor criticisms like the clunky twin guitar hooks on "Into War We Ride" or some of the very awkward vocals on "War God", but they are just that...minor. The Horde has managed to forge ahead with "Thy Blackened Reign" and you pathetic mortals are commanded to buy and worship this immediately!