My first inclination upon hearing this album was to turn it up. Part of that might have to do with how it was mastered, but I do believe certain music just doesn’t work being played in the background. The Sao Paolo four-piece definitely plays with attitude, so I squinted really hard and tried to imagine their live show. Having never seen photos of the band, I pictured young and rebellious hairstyle models in assorted black t-shirts, striking dramatically wide stances while looking incredibly cool. It turns out that I was off just a little bit – all the guys have beards – but their four-song debut is plenty intriguing. Their sound makes me think they were raised on almost nothing but Led Zeppelin, Blondie, and an assortment of 80s metal.
The groove is strong with this one. Rock aficionados will find a lot to like, and they don’t hold back on bringing the noise. Horca features João Lucas Leme on guitar and Daniell Marafon on bass, with Aécio de Souza Oliveira pounding the crap out of his drum set. But you’re going to notice Juliana Rosa first. Her vocals take command of these songs in a way that very few female vocalists are capable of. Her voice is somewhat evocative of Debbie Harry, but with more sass and muscle. (And plenty of delay).
The first song is called Haste that starts with a bang and never lets up. The heavily repeated riff provides the platform for Juliana to introduce herself, with a haunting and soaring harmony to the lead. When the end finally arrives, the band inevitably decides that it is not yet ready to stop and charges off again. Great amounts of energy are expended in the almost six-minute song.
Rats is next, and it aims to expand upon the first. The bass player definitely gets a workout, and there’s some good, chunky breakdowns in this one. The Eastern melodies sound like something that would have fit on Siamese Dream.
The third song is a curve ball, and No Prude is the centerpiece of the album. It starts out as a stripped-back acoustic reprieve, then slowly simmers into a 12/8 bluesy stomp that keeps punching you in the kidneys. But cooking continues, and suddenly explodes at the bridge into a frenetic and punkish episode of metallic glory that could well have come from Sweden rather than Brazil.
Catalise closes with a reconstituted and re-imagined version of the opening track. It’s weird and did not add to my experience. But I appreciate the effort to try something different, and Juliana’s voice is featured heavily, so that is probably never a bad thing.
Overall, there is a lot to like on this album, and I look forward to hearing more from Horca. Give them a listen: