Down here in the heavy underground, we lack a recognized central body to help us determine what’s popular and what isn’t. Sure, Bandcamp will regularly show what’s hot in each subgenre (which occasionally leads to bands like King Buffalo temporarily receiving mainstream attention), but we lack a centralized system like the Billboard 200 for records or the Billboard 100 for singles—something that really measures what’s popular in any given moment.
But we do have the Doom Charts, a collection of journalists, musicians, and label owners who keep close track of everything and compile their favorite tunes in a monthly roundup. So, when something tops the Doom Charts, I tend to pay attention.
Enter After The Fall, a 40-minute Stoner/Doom/Metal romp from San Antonio’s Thunder Horse. With the Doom Charts point system, After The Fall easily beat Mutoid Man’s Mutants and Auralayer’s Thousand Petals (my personal choice for July’s album of the month).
Which means I had to check it out.
And thank goodness for that. After The Fall is a six-pack of delicious guitar tones, a keg of thick, Stoner Doom riffs, and a party of Metal influences.
About Thunder Horse
It’s hard to describe the Thunder Horse sound in a couple of words.
The band even admits as much in their Spotify bio: “[Their] genre is hard to pin down, there are definitely Doom, Psych, Occult, and Classic Rock N Blues influences. Imagine Black Sabbath Mixed with Jane’s Addiction on a Pink Floyd trip…”
With that in mind, Eclectic Stoner Doom might be a half-decent catch-all.
Thunder Horse is:
- Stephen Bishop – vocals, guitar
- Todd “The Bird” Connally – guitar
- Dave Crow – bass, vocals
- Jason “Shakes” West – drums
After The Fall Album Review
Release Date: July 21, 2023
Label: Ripple Music
Track 1: After The Fall
There’s so much to say about “After The Fall” as an opener.
First: When an album kicks off with a gut-busting guitar solo, you know you’re in for a treat. And once the band settles into a crunchy riff, you might even hear tinges of Down or Corrosion of Conformity (and even Pantera, if the BPMs weren’t so low).
But the most interesting part of this song comes around 3:40, with a section that sounds like a direct homage to Pink Floyd’s “Run Like Hell.” (Remember the Spotify description we mentioned earlier?)
With that in mind, “After The Fall” is a bit of a musical buffet. It’s got Sludge and Doom and Stoner and Prog and Psychedelia. Very cool.
Track 2: New Normal
Another song that kicks off with a big solo, “New Normal” may feature the best tones on the entire album. The guitars here range from thick and heavy to rich and creamy, and the physical twang of the bass strings helps balance out the rumbling low ends.
Track 3: The Monolith
“The Monolith” is awash with influences and moments where it sounds like a few of the greats of yesteryear (and a few of the band’s contemporaries). For a moment (just a moment) the intro guitar tone and delivery sounds like Mothership—before we dive into the verse and take on a form closer to Helmet.
But the biggest influence here might actually be Clutch’s Pitchfork and Lost Needles, the compilation album—especially the song “Juggernaut.”
At first glance, “The Monolith” is a simple song (and Angry Metal Guy even calls it “underbaked”), but the longer you really listen to it, the more complex it becomes.
Track 4: The Other Side
As an acoustic track, “The Other Side” is a gentle break in After The Fall, especially after the pummeling we took in “The Monolith.”
With its speak-singing vocals, “The Other Side” sounds like it could have been on Pink Floyd’s Animals (think “Pigs on the Wing”)—though when the rest of the band comes in, that comparison falls away, especially with that silky smooth lead guitar.
Track 5: Apocalypse
“Apocalypse” is a little all over the place, though that occasionally works in the band’s favor. With a terrifying and unsettling lead guitar, “Apocalypse” begins in a sort of Goth/Horror Doom—and then the song takes a little while to really get moving. Thank goodness for those intricate intermittent guitar solos to keep it all interesting.
Track 6: Inner Demon
If there’s a Doom equivalent of party Rock, “Inner Demon” would be it. With its loud-quiet-loud template, robust guitar solos, and the cries of “I need some more / It’s time to get fucked up” and “My glass is empty / I need some more / It’s time to get fucked up,” “Inner Demon” is a hard-driving song of debauchery that connects itself nicely with much of the Classic Rock zeitgeist.
Track 7: Aberdeen
After its long, haunting, and far-off introduction, “Aberdeen” relies heavily on guitar solos and squealing guitars (think Green Lung or Valkyrie)—adding a layer of Prog to the entire experience. Eventually, those heavy riffs appear, and “Aberdeen” becomes another Thunder Horse rocker.
Track 8: Requiem
While “Requiem” starts slow like “The Other Side,” it works with a relatively clean electric guitar—instead of an acoustic. And when that fuzz finally arrives, it’s delicious. With plenty of intricate layers at every level, a steady build, and some enormous drums, “Requiem” may be the best song on the album, making it one hell of a closer.
Final Thoughts On Thunder Horse’s After The Fall
Final Score: 8/10
Standout Tracks: “The Monolith” and “Requiem”
Pros: This must be the time of year to celebrate complexity. We recently wrapped up a review for Auralayer’s Thousand Petals, which was a shining example of how beauty can blossom after mashing different Rock and Metal subgenres together.
Similarly, Thunder Horse’s amalgamation of Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, and other Metal touchstones has empowered them to write an album that flows seamlessly from soft acoustic tracks to pummeling Hardcore.
At its very best moments, After The Fall doesn’t just deserve a month at the top of the Doom Charts—it also deserves to be in the conversation for Album of the Year.
Cons: Let’s be honest: There’s a fine line between Hard Rock/Metal and things we’d consider “corny.” Leather jackets and cool haircuts are really only Rock ‘n’ Roll if you have the attitude and physical presence to pull them off—otherwise, you just look like a fool.
Similarly, there are times where After The Fall steps up to the line of corny, both lyrically and instrumentally. Here’s a perfect example: Remember how Angry Metal Guy called “Monolith” underbaked? It was one of my favorite tracks on the album, but I do appreciate where the reviewer’s coming from: There’s just not quite enough bite in guitar and vocals during the verses for the song to have the gravity the band was after.
Fortunately, there are no serious missteps on this album, and the Thunder Horse fellas successfully avoid any Rock ‘n’ Roll egg on their faces.
Still, there are a few moments that do feel like slight missteps. The plodding “Apocalypse” could have been cut, and “Inner Demon” also takes a moment to really get humming. But with the strength of the rest of this album (and it’s only eight tracks spanning 40 minutes), Thunder Horse could have made a serious move for EP of the year. And while there’s little glory in writing the best EP of 2023 (or any other year, for that matter), the rest of this album is strong enough to have pulled it off.