Review: Horse Head – Missionary


Why am I writing a full review for an EP? Because it’s damn good, that’s why. I recommend you stretch those neck muscles before reading this, because Missionary is a banger.

PR professionals have a penchant for hyperbole, which I understand. It’s only natural, considering they need their promos to capture the attention of extremely busy writers like myself. For the first time, I have been completely surprised – not by how much a band failed to fulfil its description, but by how much the band surpassed it.

The title track opens the release by gifting your left ear with a little over 10 seconds of fuzzed-out riffage that wouldn’t sound out of place in a High On Fire record. Soon, the whole band kicks in with indefectible groove and unmeasurable vitriol, the latter thanks to Horse Head‘s amazing vocalist. I’ll just assume that he has a siamese twin or multiple personality, as I’m convinced that a regular human being is just not capable of alternating between deranged shrieking and deep gutturals with such ease. A slightly quieter, more melodic bridge is interrupted by a halt. After brief silence, the closing section of the song begins. Even though its slow burning riff is very good, the real star of this section is the drummer’s fills, perfectly placed and hard hitting.

“Red-eyed Angel” cuts through screeching feedback in a similar fashion as the start of “Missionary”, but quickly evolves into something else. By this point the songwriting ability of the band becomes evident. I’m talking about a sludge band playing a slammy riff that perfectly suits the gurgly gutturals, following it with buzzing guitars, a bass drop and a groove reminiscent of “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”, albeit much heavier.

“Whiskey and Blood” is equal parts Blood Mountain and Holy Mountain, bouncing between different references and different speeds but still keeping the riffs tasteful. My favorite track, EP closer “Destroyer Television”, is much more introspective. It starts with the kind of guitar tone that evokes imagery of slow waves and ripples on a pond. If you payed enough attention to Kyuss‘ jam moments, and Josh Homme’s jangly downtuned tone in them, you’ll know exactly what I mean by this. The build-up and release that finishes the ordeal is absolutely phenomenal.

I am deducting one point from an otherwise perfect score because A) the bass is a little too low on the mix for my tastes and B) there’s only 4 songs instead of 10. Hurry up and write me an album, you guys. I need it.


Missionary is easily among the top 3 EPs I have listened to all year. Through its 18 minute course, Horse Head makes a clear and bold statement: the top of the sludge food chain is looking at new predators. The Missionary EP will be self-released in CD and digital formats on September 25. Meanwhile, you can jam the title track on repeat via No Clean Singing. Also, make sure to throw them a like on Facebook.

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  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    Yay, doom!

  • Definitely must hear the rest of this. Reminds me of Iron Monkey a little bit. Dis be grimey Fishgod.

  • Dubzlinger, Malandro

    This song is p good, fishman.

  • JWEG

    It must take a far greater restraint than I could ever show to not even once try to describe Horse Head’s sound in some way involving the adjective “Nebulous”…

    • Dagon

      It’s actually much more simple, it takes a poor vocabulary and just a dash of “I’m out of ideas”.

  • Guacamole Jim

    Great stuff, FishGod. I wish I could hear some more; guess I’m stuck waiting like a pleb.

  • CT-12

    Great writeup Dagon, don’t know if I could have gotten as amped to listen to this if you hadn’t been so passionate in your writing, and I’m glad I did! That bridge was fucking sick.

  • Disgustache

    This is not a safe Missionary. This is a Missionary that rocks. I like your position on this Missionary.

    These are also not safe missionaries, but their position is good. Thank you for the write up, and the new band to jam to and look into.

  • Malted Hate

    Only E.P.’s are real.


      Only demos recorded in basements are real

      • Janitor Jim Duggan

        Only demos recorded on wax cylinder are real.


          Only stone carvings r real

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            I can’t beat that.

      • KJM

        Recorded in a basement in Somerville, MA


          I’m fairly sure if you and i recorded a demo it would be trve

          • KJM

            but would it be kvlt?


            We’re not that cool

          • KJM

            : (

        • sweetooth0

          I heard the “drums” on this was just a dude pounding on a couch cushion. Also, heard this was recorded strictly so the AC guys could get onto some festival bill to see a band they really liked, then ended up missing the band because they were doing a bunch of coke in the parking lot.

          • KJM

            The “drums” are Seth Putnam hitting his thighs, dunno about the rest. INM did play a couple gigs in Allston before Seth passed though.

          • sweetooth0

            Ha, just found a live vid on youtube that has the whole story in the video description. I remember reading this on Seth’s old page, so I’d guess that’s where it was taken from.


  • Waynecro

    Pretty rawkin’ tune. I dig the vocals.


    I’m going to call the writing style on this blog “wordsupmanship”

  • CT-12

    Hey, if Simon sees this (or anybody who digs thrash) apparently Evil Army just released a new EP. Sounds pretty good so far.

  • Óðinn


  • Óðinn


    • Dagon

      Natural progression.

  • Lacertilinger

    The higher-register shrieks are reminiscent of Blythe’s early work on Burn The Priest.
    2:20 in is giving me the uncontrollable head-nods.

  • Hans Müller

    still prefer my horse heads forcefed, but this is nice, too.

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