Signed to Transgressive, Leeds band Pulled Apart By Horses seem a rather incongruous addition to the label’s roster. Nestled amongst the hipster likes of Foals, Mystery Jets and Two Door Cinema Club, their brand of direct, often fierce rock stands out. After raucous, riotous and often injury-peppered live outings, the band now aim to replicate something of the experience on their debut album.
Initial impressions are overridingly centred around two things: the guitars and the vocal. Guitars and bass drive and underpin the whole album. Often they are of a deep, menacing, chugging heaviness that wouldn’t be out of place in Metallica, as on the wonderfully-named I Punched A Lion In The Throat and particularly towards the end of Get Off My Ghost Train. Heavy metal riffs also abound throughout, with most tracks featuring some impressive lead guitar. The heroic Den Horn even manages to evoke Led Zeppelin. Elsewhere, I’ve Got Guestlist To Ron O’Hara’s Suicide is all speedy thrash, fast and furious as the guitars shriek and moan.
The vocal is of the principally-shouted style of delivery that is often categorised as “screamo”. Lead vocalist Tom Hudson spits, snarls and often – yes indeed – screams his way through the album, in a manner that is on balance more exhilarating than (occasionally) daunting. There’s also a fair amount of wordless shouting – a feature of Back To The Fuck Yeah, High Five Swan Dive Nose Dive, I Punched A Lion In The Throat and Get Off My Ghost Train. Beyond this, though, a more nuanced vocal can from time to time be heard. Some more melodic singing features on Yeah Buddy, I Punched… starts with a more spoken than screamed verse, and some nice, softening female backing vocal harmonies appear on Moonlit Talons, a track that manages to sound like both Blood Red Shoes and Slipknot in the space of a couple of minutes. Lee Vincent’s drumming, also, is key, driving the music remorselessly forward, as impressively illustrated on Meat Balloon.
The track titles alone demonstrate their with a way with words. The lyrics, too, are refreshingly endowed with an irreverent humour that counteracts the seriousness of how the music sounds. Any band that can roar “I punched a lion in the throat” or “Enjoy your fucking misery” with such gusto are surely sending up the macho intensity of their music as much as revelling in it. Meat Balloon’s repetition of “Awesome! Radical! Awesome! Totally pretentious” also seems aimed at the puncturing of pretentions, while the snatches of conversation presumably made while recording the album, right at the end, see the band taking the mickey of the process: “Just do it ‘from the top’. It’s, like, a recording term.”
A terrific album, then. Not only for the intensity, depth and sheer volume to be found on it, but also for its appealing quirks, the smattering of down-to-earth humour and the unexpected stylistic variations. As a calling card for the band and an inducement to witness the live carnage, it is effective and compelling.