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Death metal quartet Horrendous’ arduous path to prog-metal greatness

October 10, 2018

Idol Hands

Words by Vince Bellino. Photo by Scott Kinkade.

The progressive death metal world is abuzz over Idol, the fourth album from Philadelphia’s Horrendous, and according to the band, the experience of recording it was excruciating.

It began in 2017, when Horrendous convened in Washington, D.C., at guitarist/vocalist Damian Herring’s own Subterranean Watchtower Studios. The setting proved to be both a blessing and a curse. On the positive side, they had all the time in the world to add layers and layers to the new album. On the flip side, they had all the time in the world.

“It was a very tedious project, especially at certain points, and it’s just a very technical and difficult record in general,” Herring says. “[It was] basically pushing our abilities as musicians, so that in and of itself is gonna result in a lot of redos and trying to fix things. Just a challenging process altogether.”

Drummer Jamie Knox describes the process as painful, with many weekends spent recording his parts and having to throw them out because they didn’t meet the lofty standards Horrendous had set for themselves.

“I remember the first weekend, we were driving home—I think I did three songs that weekend—and we listened to them in the car and I just wanted to cry,” Knox says. “In my head, I was like, ‘We’re not gonna keep any of these.’ ”

As painful as the process may have been, the band’s musicianship and attention to detail—and Herring’s skilled ear as a producer—shines through on Idol, from the cleanly sung vocals on “Divine Anhedonia” to the serpentine riffs and blistering guitar solos found throughout. The ominous introduction “…Prescience” sets the tone before making way for the pounding drums of the lead single, “Soothsayer.”

Obituary bassist Terry Butler, who shared the stage with Horrendous nightly on the Decibel Magazine Tour in 2017, also took note of the death metal phenoms’ meticulous riff craft.

“I thought they were a perfect blend of death metal and progressive death metal,” Butler recalls. “Killer riffs and cool time changes. They were very tight and showed lots of energy when they played.”

Though it’s been years since Horrendous really fit neatly into the old-school death metal revival category, there is no going back with Idol. With the release of a King Crimson-inspired album that pushes boundaries for both the band and the listener, they are counting on listeners investing their time in the record.

“I definitely hope that people give it some time to simmer,” Herring says. “It’s such a dense album, and just knowing how much time that we spent on it… even when we listen, it’s almost like we’re rediscovering things that we put in there that we didn’t remember. I just feel like if you don’t take care when listening to it, for certain people it’s almost gonna go in one ear and out the other.”

One Comment
  1. Gunita Kaur permalink
    October 10, 2018 7:16 pm

    Love this album! Horrendous never fails to deliver.

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