Thursday, May 31, 2012

Song of the Day: PTB, "Dark Horse"

Seven albums into the peerless career, Converge released their best-yet record, Axe to Fall. The kickoff track, "Dark Horse," is a beautifully violent pit-starter, a thrashcore slice of urgency.

Not since Reign in Blood has a metal record opened so ferociously. The main riff imagines a mathier, heavier Black Flag, propelled by a galloping rhythm section. Most bands need two singers to match how Jacob Bannon sings the verses and screams the chorus. The moment where Ben Koller's drums cut out for a split second before going right into blast beats may be the most adrenalizing note on record.

Punk is almost by definition too raw and sparse to lend itself to orchestration. You won't see a String Quartet Tribute to Minor Threat available anytime soon. Yet this keyboard orchestral arrangement of "Dark Horse" has my head moving up and down repeatedly.

Someone calling himself (I assume) PTB recorded this version with a Yamaha MO8 Synth. Programmed orchestras obviously aren't as exciting as the real thing, but even through a synthesizer it's revelatory to hear how well "Dark Horse" translates to an orchestral arrangement. I like how the piano, horns and strings all take parts of Kurt Ballou's guitar line--PTB's choices work, but they also leave room to wonder how much further "Dark Horse" can be explored. Maybe classical punk isn't such a bad idea.

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