Running on Riffs: Thunder Horse celebrates powerful second album with outdoor live show

click to enlarge Thunder Horse celebrates its new album release at Hi-Tones on April 10. - COURTESY OF THUNDER HORSE

  • Courtesy of Thunder Horse
  • Thunder Horse celebrates its new album release at Hi-Tones on April 10.

On its newly released second album, Chosen One, San Antonio doom metal band Thunder Horse demonstrates that it grasps a fundamental of its chosen subgenre: it’s about the riffs, stupid.

While loads of present-day aspirants to the Throne of Sabbath get the tune down-turn up thing, fewer grasp that the key to rising from the Bandcamp masses lies in crafting guitar lines that are as catchy as they are brooding.
With that understanding — one clearly rooted in classic-rock radio — Thunder Horse gallops out front of the doom metal herd, its legs driven by the power of the riff.

There’s a timelessness and a simplicity to its approach that explains the raves the band recently racked up from metal pubs including Decibel Magazine and Doomed and Stoned.

Fortunately for Thunder Horse, Chosen One’s release on high-profile stoner rock label Ripple Music also coincides with live music’s gradual awakening from its pandemic-forced hibernation.

The band will celebrate the new album Saturday, April 10, with an outdoor show at St. Mary’s Strip hangout Hi-Tones.

Fans of Sabbath-influenced acts like Trouble and St. Vitus will recognize the musical modus operandi employed for much of Chosen One’s first side, and the lyrical content of songs such as “Rise of the Heathens” and “Let Them Bleed” don’t exactly chart new territory.

Still, it’s clear Thunder Horse has mastered the formula. That shouldn’t be a surprise since the band is comprised of veteran players — three of the four members, including singer-guitarist Stephen Bishop, played in the long-running industrial metal act Pitbull Daycare.

But, as the album progresses, the band’s varied influences begin to show, much to its strength. With multi-tracked vocals, a Janes Addiction-reminiscent interlude and late-song tempo change, Chosen One’s title track is a clear standout. Little surprise it’s also the first single.

“Broken Dreams” takes the band into heavy psych territory and serves as an impressive showpiece for drummer Jason “Shakes” West. “Texas” weaves a melancholy tale of longing featuring just Bishop’s voice and a shimmering strummed guitar.

Thunder Horse’s debt to blues-influenced classic rock comes into full play during the album’s finale. The brief instrumental “Remembrance,” featuring Hammond organ swells and country-rock guitar fills, ebbs into a straight-faced cover of Traffic’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy” featuring that most ’70s of homages: a talk-box guitar solo.

The band’s release show will run 2-8 p.m. and feature openers Red Beard Wall and Fostermother, along with DJs Smoke and Plata.

$8, 2 p.m., Saturday, April 10, Hi-Tones, 621 E. Dewey Place, (210) 785-8777, instagram/hitones_sa.

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