Doom metal, like all minimalist musical styles, is a lot like abstract art. Everyone assumes it’s easy. Oh, the whole song is four notes? Your drummer plays at 10BPMs? I can do that. And in some ways, it is true. Anyone can pull off a reasonable duplicate of one of Rothko’s squares. But the question is, can your square make people weep the way Rothko’s can? Similarly, it doesn’t take a lot of technical prowess to play a Drowning Horse song, but it does require a unique talent to make their tar-pit riffs and Neanderthal drumbeats come across like the hammering of the Gods.
Australia has a penchant for tortured music, and the geographical factors that harbor such bleakness—isolation, the barren landscape, shady history—are all too prominent in Drowning Horse’s ultra-remote hometown of Perth. On stage, they’ll ride one low rumbling sustained note like there’s no point in moving on, as if time has ceased to have any meaning, as is moving on to the next riff is just moving one step closer to death. They’ll ride that droning note for an eternity, past the point where it ceases to be exhilarating, becomes tedious, turns downright painful, starts to become so ridiculous it’s almost comical, and then comes out the other side to some kind of grand epiphany. If you live in Perth, what else do you have to do other than melt under the unending throb of a wall of Celestion speakers pulsing out a drop-tuned A?
It may not be for everyone. Actually, it’s probably not for most people. Which is why Drowning Horse rarely leaves Perth and only pressed 250 copies of their debut LP. But the people that “get it” are in for a treat.