Review: Forcefed Horsehead ‘Monoceros’

Forcefed Horsehead (no, not a reference to the 2013 horsemeat scandal) described in the promo notes as ‘the sound of the apocalypse’ are an Oslo based outfit comprised of Audun Mehl – vocals, Patrick Wivegh – guitar, Rikard Jonsson – guitar, Arve Barsnes – bass and Kikken Vegsund on drums. The band released their self-titled debut EP in 2011 followed by the Deux and Hunting Witches EPs in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

Forcefed Horsehead 'Monoceros'

The band have played with some pretty big names in the extreme metal scene including Cannibal Corpse, Rotten Sound, Gatecreeper and my personal favourites, the amazing Cloud Rat. Monoceros is a reference to a legendary creature with only one horn that is related to the unicorn. It’s noted for being next to impossible to capture alive and whose head adorns the album’s cover. The twelve tracks were recorded over the pandemic and thematically explore ‘the notion of human decay as an entity and how much self-destructiveness and collective annihilation comes from apathy, greed and self-proclaimed prophecies’.

Every Death You Take (an amusing play on The Police’s hit single?) opens the album with a filthy and delicious slice of crust punk influenced death metal. Think Wolfbrigade and you’ll get a fair idea of what to expect. Its fast as fuck, brutally immediate and an uncompromising kick ass opener. Futile has an early Nirvana grungy sludge vibe to it which is alternated with savage grindcore pummelling and Novgorod features the thick riffing of bands like Pro-Pain interspersed with some truly insane black metal blastbeat action. Like the other tracks so far, it’s a blitzkrieg rollercoaster ride and quite a thrilling one at that.

Ruins adds some old-school Incantation death metal and late Sepultura mid-paced thrash to the hardcore mix while Iri by contrast is a ballad by comparison in terms of pace. It’s certainly a good deal more progressive than its proceeding numbers and has me thinking of bands such as Gorguts and Atheist who favour a more technical cerebral approach. A welcome change in terms of style.

a filthy and delicious slice of crust punk influenced death metal…

The Black Sun marks the album’s halfway point and is one of the longer tracks at over six minutes. For the vast majority, it has a post-metal Neurosis vibe, in fact, the vocals remind one slightly of the aforementioned band’s since disgraced former frontman Scott Kelly. Again, the band decide to demonstrate their willingness to experiment and it pays dividends here. Dragged Back To Life brings us back to more familiar territory with the band’s trademark hardcore tinged death metal making a reappearance that has me thinking of bands like Hatebreed, but thankfully without the corny clichéd lyrics and by now tired plodding riffing.

Übernecro recalls Darkthrone during their punkier moments while Spell No Stones is a cross between Divine Intervention era Slayer and the black ‘n’ roll of Entombed. From there we have a couple of sprightly numbers, the sucker punch duo Unending Appetite and In A Rut. The former is a little more groove orientated, once again I’m reminded of Sepultura and their criminally overlooked Schizophrenia record, the latter by contrast with its bass driven intro and gang choruses remind one of vintage New York hardcore but with a Brutal Truth twist. …And Then There Were None at well over nine minutes is the album’s longest track and is a Swans style dirge that helps bring the album to a considerably more restrained conclusion.

Despite the band’s strange, and frankly silly name, Monoceros makes for a relentless and fun listen, albeit with enough stylistic diversions along the way to keep you interested.

Label: Owlripper Recordings
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills