mewithoutYou Confronts Karma on Pale Horses

mewithoutYou‘s style has always been sonically experimental and lyrically cryptic. On their sixth full-length album, Pale Horses, the band molds their art rock and post-hardcore aesthetics with spiritual words to create what might be their most universally appealing work to date. Frontman Aaron Weiss’s metaphor-filled lyrics roll seamlessly from whispers into screams, while the instruments skillfully accompany the stories with grandiose sounds.

mewithoutyou pale horses

Weiss’s lyrics are deeply-entrenched in metaphor and tend to focus on sacred revelations, at times sounding like they were taken right out of scripture. Pale Horses begins with an awakening reflection on the prevalence of failure in our times, Weiss softly sings “Pale horse songs of a slow decline / Sideshow words if the songs don’t mind / A few more lines, the oil and the wine / I thought I’d left that all behind.” These lines recognize human’s demise head on, and the rest of  the album delves drastically deeper into those thoughts.

In “Mexican War Streets,” the power of the instrumentals and Weiss’s voice drives home their message. In calm spoken word over a steady beat, the band meditates on trying to stay free of deceit, but recognizes how often failure is the outcome of our desires. His epiphanies on karma bring on the most deafening screams on the record, “Nature had another plan and failed to run it by me!” The frustration over the inherently counterproductive struggle for purity comes through in every quiver and scratch in his voice, while the slamming guitar riff contends with the lyrical power.

There are a lot of interesting arrangements on Pale Horses, and they come off as a calculated response to all of their past work. Mewithoutyou transitions smoothly between mosh-worthy moments you would hear on [A→B] Life and more solemn ones that characterized Brother, Sister. In “Red Cow,” the verses ride a peaceful bass line with soft vocals, which quickly turn to screams and usher in a monumental chorus with ambient, textured riffs. The final track, “Rainbow Signs,” mimics the album’s opening melody with an added serene guitar, while lyrics contemplate the human-caused apocalypse, “God gave Noah the rainbow sign / No more water, is the H-Bomb next time?” The track gets more spiritual from there, with Weiss bringing up the fact that all of humanity shares the same beginning, whether God means nature or maker. In the last half of the song, the band brings in a heavy wrath with howling guitars and lyrics paralleling the Book of Revelation.

Overall, Pale Horses is an impressive reflection on the current state of the band and humanity in general. By echoing their past work, the band paints an image that comes off like a prayer that is equal parts frustrated and thoughtful. The album finds problems with the current state of life, but wisely takes solace in letting karma and nature run its course, even if that means an eventual end.

Pick up a copy of Pale Horses here, or stream below. mewithoutYou is on tour now, be on the lookout for a hometown date when they return.

What do you think of mewithoutYou’s latest effort? Tell us in the comments below!

Featured Image by Josh Mock via Flickr

Album artwork courtesy of the artist, by Vasily Kafanov

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