Wednesday 5 April 2023

Forcefed Horsehead - Monoceros

Labels: Owlripper Recordings/Screaming Skull Records

Formats: Digital/Tape

Release Date: 24 Mar 2023


1. Every Death You Take

2. Futile

3. Novgorod

4. Ruins

5. Iri

6. The Black Sun

7. Dragged Back To Live

8. Ubernecro

9. Spell No Stones

10. Unending Appetite

11. In a Rut

12. ...And Then There Were None

As promised if you saw one of my most recent FB posts (if you didn't, find and follow me there!), you'll know that I was planning to write reviews of two very recent releases from Owlripper Recordings. Forcefed Horsehead are from Oslo, Norway and Monoceros is their newest body of work. They released their self-titled debut EP way back in 2011 and have remained somewhat under the radar until now, as they've gathered well-deserved coverage via Decibel, Invisible Oranges and Bandcamp Daily amongst others! Owlripper released this album digitally in late March, with Oslo's Screaming Skull Records putting out a limited tape run of 50 copies around the same time. 

Forcefed Horsehead deliver grind and punk as only Norwegians can. Cold Scandi-rawness sits alongside raging heaviness on album opener ‘Every Death You Take’ (is the title meant to be a play on the famous song by Sting & The Police?). It’s fast but there’s also a more foreboding sensitivity to it as well. I’ve known Paul from Owlripper for many years now and I know he has a love for bands with this intensity, so this release comes as no surprise.

Alongside the grind und blast there’s a hefty dose of proper punk attitude, as evidenced on ‘Futile’. It’s rhythmically catchy while also being off-kilter in the right places. It stops short of being a straight-up grind song thanks to FH’s excellently performed guitar work, which for this type of extreme music, is surprisingly crisp. It reminds me a bit of some of the metalcore bands that made up the NWOAHM back in the early 00’s, like Overcast, Blood Has Been Shed and the like (as opposed to the more theatrical names). Comparisons are fruitless though so don’t shoot me down here. 

‘Novgorod’ goes in a different direction with a rawness that’s as cold as the city it’s named after. Coldness doesn’t necessarily mean unlistenable though, as it’s still got undeniably listenable hooks and melody, amongst the percussion and full-on growls. I’ve read that people have name-checked Cancer Bats when referring to FH and I can totally see why.

I can already tell this review’s gonna turn into a lengthy one (sorry, not sorry) as ‘Ruins’ begins with the most black metal-esque intro so far. It leads into a song that’s over before you know it, crawling with crust and a belligerent outlook. On hearing ‘Iri’, I’d say that FH embody fellow Scandinavian bands Turbonegro and Kvelertak purely for the catchiness of the riffs alone. That is before they go in a bewilderingly progressive death metal direction though. There’s so much going on here and we’re not even halfway through yet!

Closing the first half of Monoceros with ‘The Black Sun’, FH channel the dread induced sludge/doom of Primitive Man with the psych/prog of Leviathan-era Mastodon. It’s a departure from their faster songs for the most part, proving that they’re not just about the shock and awe (though fastness does seep in at times). The album’s latter half begins with the off-kilter/thrashing punk of ‘Dragged Back To Life’, in case you were too relaxed after listening to ‘The Black Sun’. Gang vocals are used to full effect here as well.

Naming a song ‘Ubernecro’ is either pure tongue-in-cheek or brave depending on your outlook. The song that bares it’s name is anything but necro, relying instead on FH’s musical blueprint. It’s a blueprint that brings to mind the sludgier PV of Famine (the Leeds, UK one). ’Spell No Stones’ moves in death metal circles again, but briefly. Categorising them is futile (no pun intended). The aptly named ‘Unending Appetite’ is the quickest song on Monoceros and it embodies the craft that’s put in by FH. As does the similarly fast ‘In A Rut’, which seems to last way longer than it’s ninety-second playing time.

Akin to the closing of the album’s first half, the second half concludes with ,,,And Then There Were None’, which is a post-metal beast that stretches for nearly ten minutes. The screams that are buried amongst the instruments herald what’s to come. Blackened hardcore mixed with metallic tones and orchestral flourishes. Ultimately, it’s unnerving. More-so than what’s come before on the album, though the clean vocals that come to the fore during the song’s latter half are able to wrestle back some light. 

For such a (seemingly) unknown band to produce an album with this level of assured musicianship is rare. Maybe we’ve been looking towards the wrong bands until now. Forcefed Horsehead, as well as being brilliantly named, have something special. Monoceros could well be album of the year. Fantastic!

You can stream and download Monoceros via Owlripper Recordings below:-

Forcefed Horsehead -

Owlripper Recordings -

Physical tape copies (if still available) can be purchased by contacting Screaming Skull Records :-

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