The lockdown phase of the COVID-19 pandemic was a pressure cooker for independent bands: some bands buckled down and made the most of the inescapable downtime, while others simply... buckled. Pale Horseman is certainly in the first camp: the long-running Chicago veterans took the opportunity to cook up some of their nastiest and most adventurous sludge yet. This new material doesn't shy away from the band's core strength of fashioning gothic, imposing riffs and methodically driving them through listener's skulls with hand tools, but it also develops these deadly ideas into spaces slightly beyond their familiar caustic territory.

Their new track "Exile," which we're premiering below, seems custom-built to induce ritualistic headbanging at a slow, methodical speed sure to cause severe neck trauma. I speak from significant experience seeing them live here, but there's simply no better way to appreciate it--maybe stretch a little bit before listening.



Meting out destruction with saintly patience, Pale Horseman's dedication to cyclical, crushing riffs shines on "Exile," but their ever-evolving approach to songwriting is noteworthy too. A sense of rising pressure, initially sparked by a deceptively calm introduction, escalates through the track as if it's about to reach a boiling point--and when it does, a wicked solo lets off some of the steam before the track comes crashing down to its end.

Though directly influenced by the pandemic, "Exile" is completely in line with Pale Horseman's apocalyptically-minded sludge--should the actual apocalypse manage to hold off long enough, expect more of Pale Horseman's dire sludge on its way to our doomed world soon.

Vocalist/guitarist Andre Miguel Almaraz comments:

The song was written by Eric Ondo and he does lead vocals on that one. It was the first song we completed of the new batch of songs, and it’s been a band favorite ever since. It was written during and inspired by the lockdown phase of the COVID pandemic here in the Chicago area. Ultimately the lyrical content ended up being about multiple plagues that have wiped out large numbers of people over the centuries, and how mankind has responded to managing the spread of the plagues. It also touches on the level of care/lack of care given to the infected and dying individuals, including the disposal of the contaminated corpses.


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