Snowman are a band unafraid to explore the darkest depths of the soul – and this latest offering The Horse, The Rat & The Swan is an exhilarating journey. Gone are the rock roll drums and surf-punk guitar licks of their 2006 self-titled release – the parts have been stripped back to their bare bones, and this time we are led deep into the heart of the beast.
The album opens with an almost militant snare intro, and Our Mother (She Remembers) kicks into it’s jarring 5/4 rhythm. The first single We Are The Plague continues the clash of nature and man, melding tribal percussion with a digitised robot voice.
The Blood Of The Swan marks a dramatic shift in mood, beginning as a very pretty piano/vocal piece. Daniel Was A Timebomb has an incredibly catchy beat and features some Eastern-sounding guitar lines while A Rebirth uses short-wave radio sounds and the super-long sustain of e-bowed guitar to create a haunting soundscape.
The Horse (Parts 1 and 2) is like the score to a tragic horror story, beginning with a soothing ambience and soft vocals, until the drums come pounding in and we are swept away once more by what sounds like a tribal hurricane.
The spooky bass draws us into the final track Diamond Wounds, and McKee’s crooning whisper guides us through one of the most gloriously melodic tracks on the album. It is as though all the themes that have been developing can finally culminate and rest here, their story told.
The Horse, The Rat & The Swan is like a good novel that just begs to be revisited again and again. If you don’t buy the CD, make sure you pick up the vinyl.