Bristol seems to be a hotbed of underground talent, and you can add new arbiters of anguish Sugar Horse to that ever-growing pool.
An expansion of 2019’s ‘DRUJ’, the band’s second EP, ‘Drugs’, is now upon us, with more layers peppered over their wall of noise, and the song titles alone offer just a glimmer of their subversion.
The title-track and opener begins with what sounds like a stereotypical doom metal riff before Ashley Tubb‘s un-ignorable, impassioned shout is front and centre. A random sample also lets you know what you’re in for – it’s not clear what the destination of this journey is, but you want to join the ride nonetheless. Isolated chanting and hand clapping then follows, but when the song ends sounding as heavy as a house crashing into another house, you have no choice but to give yourself whiplash.
‘Pity Party’ is yet another twist in the tail. As much as the previous song is similar to acts like Conjurer or Neurosis, this song invokes the immersive qualities of bands like Oceansize, too. What’s most impressive, though, is how fluid this combination is for a band on their second EP.
The excellently-titled ‘Richard Branson In The Sky With Diamonds’ also expertly combines hulkiness with melody, but the best offering here is undoubtedly ‘When September Rain’. Indulging in the kind of moping and despair that The Cure did so well, it sucks you in before it builds up brilliantly in its second half, with multi-layered vocals really helping to carry the song. There are even some memorable hooks on here, making for a truly incredible number.
It’s back to the doom-laden drawing board for ‘Dog Egg’, though, which is a maelstrom of feedback, chaos, and tortured screams that leaves you wanting more as soon as it finishes.
Sugar Horse may not be the most easily describable or marketable band, but let’s face it, that’s nearly always the criteria for the best music, and they sure as hell wouldn’t have it any other way. ‘Drugs’ is an EP that will leave you with something new to take from it every time, making for a record that showcases enormous promise.