Do you know who Sal Abruscato is? If you don’t, you should. He is the co-founder and original drummer of Type O Negative. He played on their classic albums “Slow, Deep & Hard”, “Origin of the Feces”, and “Bloody Kisses”. Sal left Type O to be the drummer for one of my other all-time favorite bands, Life of Agony, pounding the skins on “River Runs Red”, “Ugly”, “River Runs Again”, and “Broken Valley”. I have had the opportunity to see him perform multiple times with both bands, and the man never disappoints. He is now the singer, songwriter and guitarist for A Pale Horse Named Death. Sal is joined by guitarists Eddie Heedles and Matt Brown, Speed Kill Hate bassist Dave Bizzigotti and former Type O Negative drummer Johnny Kelly (who replaced Abruscato in that band). A Pale Horse Named Death‘s 2011 debut album, “And Hell Will Follow Me”, was one of my favorites for that year. On May 21, 2013 they released their second album, “Lay My Soul to Waste”.
“Lay My Soul to Waste” opening/title track has to be one of the more ominous openings of an album since Black Sabbath “Black Sabbath” or Slayer “Hell Awaits”. Backward masked words and swirling, creepy laughter lead you to the opening riffs of ‘Shallow Grave’. The next two tracks, ‘The Needle In You’ and ‘In the Sleeping Death’, settle in to an Alice In Chains-like groove, with chugging guitars and waning vocals. You can almost feel the smack burning through your veins. ‘Killer By Night’ picks things back up, telling a tale of what sounds like the theme song for James Skinner’s character from “The Killing”.
One thing I really like about “Lay My Soul to Waste” compared to A Pale Horse Named Death’s previous album, “And Hell Will Follow Me”, is the conscious effort to speed up the tempo on more songs. This gives them more variation than the band’s two previous speeds: funeral procession and crawling to your death. ‘Day of the Storm’ is a good example of this, complete with the torrential downpour sound effect. A Pale Horse Named Death even mix things up with an acoustic track, ‘Dead of Winter’. Mind you, this is no fluffy ballad. Sal keeps it just as dark as the rest of the album. If A Pale Horse Named Death had been around when “Natural Born Killers” was filmed, I have no doubt they would have been a shoe in for the soundtrack.
“And Hell Will Follow Me” was a really good album, and A Pale Horse Named Death have one upped themselves with “Lay My Soul to Waste”. This record is bigger, badder, and better in all facets. They have returned with an album full of faster, heavier, and more demented tracks than before. If Sal and A Pale Horse Named Death continue this progression they have nowhere to go but up. Actually, in this case, maybe they would prefer down.