Every once in a while, an album comes along that’s so good it actually pisses you off. You think about all the missed opportunities, all the times you could have gone to see the band but decided to dip into your concert budget for booze, all the weeks you spent not listening to them because your friend once described them in unflattering terms. Red Horse pisses me off, not only Early Graves came around my area less than a month ago to promote the album, but also because they came around AGAIN (less than a week ago, seriously) and I blew them off. Now that I’ve heard songs like “Skinwalker” and “Apocalyptic Nights,” I deeply regret my lack of involvement in the pits those songs must have created.

Red Horse is just about as good as it gets. Overwhelmingly thrashy and hardcore, it’s almost hard to believe this album is coming out in 2012. The feel of it is very old school, kind of like Nuclear Assault but with heavier emphasis on brutality, especially in the vocal area. Jon Strachan has done an excellent job filling the void left by founding vocalist Makh Daniels, who lost his life in a van accident two years ago. I’m hesitant to compare the two, but I will say that if you were a fan of Daniels, Strachan’s talents definitely measure up, even if you’re still feeling a sense of loss.

The energy in Red Horse really jumps out at you, no matter how you listen to the album. I’ve listened to it about five times on cheap laptop speakers, and I still haven’t gotten sick of it yet. Frustratingly though, there are at least five songs on this album that would probably sound much better live (“Quietus,” I’m looking right at you). That said, the only wrong way to enjoy this album is not to enjoy it at all. Unrelenting, heavy-hitting, and mean, Red Horse is truly a force to be reckoned with. (9 / 10)

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