Sound — 7
For a band that has just recently gone through several changes, they provide a supremely strong album. Guitarist, Josh James, recently left the band to be replaced by Alex Varian who had previously handled bass responsibilities in the band since 2010. The bass duties were taken over by Jason Southwell, who ironically was originally replaced on bass guitar by Alex Varian. The band also broke ties with their previous label, Metal Blade Records, and this album is being released on Rise Records. The album opens up energetically with "Crows," which definitely does a great job of catching my attention and showing me that the exit of Josh James isn't hurting the overall tightness of the band. "When You're Born in the Gutter, You End Up in the Port" is the second track on the album, which really goes to showcase how tight the rhythm section of this band can be, even after the recent changes. "Post Satanic Ritual Baby" won me over with the lyrics "sometimes we all need a drink," and had some truly interesting guitar passages in the track. The fourth track from the album is the title track, "Dead Horses," which has the lead guitar sounding almost like a keyboard in the early part of the song, and makes extensive use of gang vocals on the track - this is definitely the strongest "ballad" type of track on the entire album. "Browbeaters Anonymous" opens with a really cool muted rhythm part on guitar and a lot of high energy, which is a great mid-point for the album, definitely drawing me back in for the rest of the show. "It's All Over But the Cryin'" is up next and opens up with a lot of melody and shows both Andrew and Craig providing screamed vocals during the track (though Craig does do some cleaner vocals on the track, as well). "Lacuna Inc." has an interesting opening riff and opens with clean vocals that almost sounds like a stereotypical hard rock song, but that vibe is quickly killed when the rhythm gets truly started and Andrew's lyrics come in. "Mike Myers Never Runs, But He Always Catches Up" was really one of the more disjointed sounding tracks on the album (in a good way), and had overall a really unique vibe to it. "The Fortunate Ones" is probably my favorite track from the album. The track opens with a melody which is soon joined by some tremolo picking on the second guitar. There is a lot of clean vocals on the track and a lot of tremolo picking, but when the rhythm comes pounding in with the screamed vocals is when the track really wins me over. The album closes out with "That Dog'll Hunt," which specifically caught my attention as having some of the best bass tone on the entire album. I get fixated on good bass tone in heavy music, and this track definitely qualified in that regard. Very tight rhythm on this track, and some of the best bass and guitar tone (in my opinion) from the entire album.
Lyrics — 7
Andrew Carey sings the screamed vocals for the band, while Craig Chaney (guitarist) sings the clean vocals on their work. The album has more screamed vocals than clean vocals by a very small margin. The tasteful balance of screamed and clean vocals by the band is one of the things they do very well, and this album is a further example of this. Something that Evergreen Terrace does that has set them apart from other bands in their genre, is the clean vocals provided by Craig are often backed by screamed vocals from Andrew which creates a really interesting vibe, overall. The actual lyrics on the album are well written, while sometimes tongue-in-cheek, they are always very creative. As a sample of the lyrics from the album, here are some lyrics from the title track, "Dead Horses": "End over end I've been living/ Through fire, through dirt, and through stone/ Abandoning all, unforgiven/ So tighten the noose that keeps me hanging/ Under this skin I've been given/ Lie broken, these travelers bones/ Dead horses have always been ridden/ So tighten the noose that keeps me hanging/ Never letting go/ I wanna know, I wanna know/ Exactly what keeps me hanging on/ Is it the wind in my face/ The reassuring embrace/ Of a family that I've never known/ I wanna know, I wanna know/ Exactly what keeps me hanging on."
Overall Impression — 8
Evergreen Terrace has really come across with a strong album considering the many changes they've just recently gone through. While I don't really like when band lineups change, I do understand that it is sometimes unavoidable. While the situation with Josh James is rather vague, the only thing I can find out for sure is that he is now playing guitar full-time for the band Stick To Your Guns. There are two things that to this day still set Evergreen Terrace apart from their peers, in my mind - they have a LOT of groove for their genre, and they're truly creative in a way that really draws me in. It also doesn't hurt that their rhythm has always been super tight. My favorite track on the album is definitely "The Fortunate Ones," but I think that is based on my very specific taste in music, and other people will probably have different favorite tracks.