CD Review: Horns of Ormus - Bashful

By Adam Wujtewicz

I've referred to Horns of Ormus as intelli-punk before and I'd say that their new release Bashful only solidifies that classification. Drawing as much influence from the arty leanings of bands like Television and Sonic Youth as they do the fury of bands like Wire and the Dead Boys, Bashful gives me the same feeling as I had when I first heard J Reatard's Blood Visions, "Wow I actually still enjoy punk!". HOO isn't reinventing the wheel but they're walking such a fine line with an incredible amount of grace that it's a pleasure to listen to. They're never obtuse, they're never hardcore and they're never ever ever up their own ass. It is an incredibly rare thing when smart and raucous go together without being any of those things. There is a jangly attack that runs through the entire record. Whether it's the high end scrape and cut of Chris's guitar or the sandpaper melody of Greg's vocals...these guys don't play defense. 

The open and live sound of Bashful also adds to that attack. The songs sound like they were recorded in one room where all three members were going balls out. The reverb on the vocals and guitar sounds natural and with the drums and bass a little crushed down and tighter, the low end punches all that much harder. The rhythm section is definitely the engine of the HOO vehicle. Greg's bass sound is thick and low-end-centric when put up against Chris's guitar but when you hear it without the guitar and vocals the clang of the strings comes through clear as bell (like the intro to "It Just Does"). Greg is also a bass-player's-bass-player. He's not just bashing out root notes to chords... he's adding melody and depth to the songs with his playing. Jim's drumming is metronome tight and though he's a little low in the mix you can tell he's controlling the throttle. This is a difficult task considering the very much stop and start feel of a lot of a lot of HOO songs. "I've Got A Feeling" goes from three chord 4/4 to tight and regimented 3 note riffage enough to make most people's head spin and Jim holds it down like a champ. 

Horns of Ormus rockin' Hygienic Art Park - July 11, 2014
Photo: WailingCity
So what about that high end jangling madness I was talking about earlier? Right, so Chris's guitar is just over-driven enough so that you wouldn't call it clean. Many of his chord choices remind me of Daydream Nation era Sonic Youth with a very Jam like tone. The chords have more personality than your standard power chord and add tension to what could otherwise be seen as a straightforward set of tunes. Where the Sonic Youth comparison is most evident is on "Persephone". This song also guest features Fatal Film front man Matt Potter on lead vocals. Greg handles lead vocals throughout the rest of the record - and the screech and speed that he spits his lyrics with gives him his personality but he never sacrifices melody. Think Guy Picciotto from Fugazi singing Buzzcocks songs. The second track on the album "Centipede" has a little more Fugazi in nature. It combines angular guitar tack and 4 chord punk with single note atmosphere without ever having to let up the intensity. 

I've made a great deal of extremely flattering comparisons in this review (I'm aware of that).  I gotta tell you, I call 'em like I hear 'em. The other thing is that I'm pretty sure that every comparison I made, save the J Reatard comparison at the beginning, was a blending of the 2 artists. This is all part of that fine line that Horns of Ormus are walking. They're obviously drawing from influences in their past but they're twisting them around and not wearing them on their sleeves. You want to know if these comparisons are warranted and not just me blowing smoke? Pick up Bashful and find out. I'd be very surprised if you didn't find what I've said accurate.

*Check out one of the tracks off Bashful: "Horselover Fat"

Catch the CD release show:

Saturday August 2, 2014
@ 33 Golden Street
New London, CT
9:30pm / $5 / 21+



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