He Whose Ox is Gored Premiere “Crusade” from The Camel, the Lion, the Child


Seattle progressive heavy rockers He Whose Ox is Gored release their debut full-length, The Camel, the Lion, the Child, on Oct. 9 through Bleeding Light Records (LP/DL) and Breathe Plastic Records (tape). The album follows a couple of shorter releases — EPs like 2014’s Nightshade and Rumors (review here) — that have helped spread the word and develop the four-piece’s particular brand of weighted and atmospheric plundering, but the substantial feel throughout the eight-track/51-minute LP defies the “debut album” stereotype for how assured the band sounds and for how solidified their aesthetic seems to be. Tracked by Robert Cheek with additional recording by Randall Dunn and mixed by Matt Bayles, it is as satisfying in its textured feel as in its level of impact, songs like “Omega” slamming hard into the consciousness even as they seem to be expanding their own context through fluid rhythmic turns, overarching washes of synth and vocal arrangements.

Ultimately held together by the foundation provided by bassist Mike Sparks and drummer John O’ConnellThe Camel, the Lion, the Child fades in gradually with an immediate eerie synth line and tapped guitar, the former provided by Lisa Mungo and the latter by Brian McClelland, both of whom also contribute vocals. It’s a tense start to the record and that’s clearly on purpose, the band thinking more about the album front-to-back than any single track’s impression. A series of one-word titles leads to the finale “Weighted by Guilt, Crushed by a Diamond,” with “Oathbreaker” doling out near-frenetic he-whose-ox-is-gored-the-camel-the-lion-the-childrhythmic turns sans mathy-pretense, McClelland‘s few lines shouted deep in the mix but still blown out, before the aforementioned “Omega” takes hold, introduces waves of synth and the ambience they’ll come to add throughout. That song builds to an apex satisfying melodically and in its heft, but the subsequent “Crusade” pushes further, starting melodic before unfolding The Camel, the Lion, the Child‘s most progressive interplay of vocals between Mungo and McClelland — is there such a thing as post-post-hardcore? — and setting a theme of multiple-element cohesion that continues through the following “Zelatype” to round out side A in a manner both emotionally resonant and otherworldly.

Having so thoroughly engulfed the listener with its first half, He Whose Ox is Gored set about further developing the progression across side B, with “Alpha” starting on a slow fade to mirror “Oathbreaker” but keeping a more post-rock vibe to complement its guitar noodles, which will be a recurring theme throughout the following “Magazina” and “Cairo,” both of which feel more patient than their counterparts, “Magazina” in particular calling to mind a more lush vision of earlier Kylesa, still set to land heavy with O’Connell‘s pervasive thud, but in less of a rush, Mungo shouting at the fore backed by McClelland, winding riffs leading the way to a finish and the quiet start of “Cairo,” which develops in layers of guitar and keys across its first two minutes before righteous, angular plod takes hold with synth on top to push The Camel, the Lion, the Child to its crescendo — all the more stunning in headphones for the deeply buried vocals and the gorgeous mix-placement of the keys in the mix — the closer “Weighted by Guilt, Crushed into a Diamond” offering a suitable apex of its own but accomplishing even more in its atmosphere and slow-rolling immersion.

He Whose Ox is Gored have put in some obviously-valuable road time over the last couple years, so maybe it’s not such a shocker that The Camel, the Lion, the Child would be so assured of its goals and so up to the ambitious task it sets for itself, but taken across its span, it still feels surprising just how far beyond expectation the band go in their songwriting and in their big-picture conceptual construction. That is to say, I expected the record to be good, and it’s a better album than I expected.

All the more, then, I’m very happy to be hosting the premiere of “Crusade” from the album, which again, is out Oct. 9. Find it below, followed by more info and linkery, and enjoy:

Titled The Camel, The Lion, The Child, the eight-track, near hour-long sound exhibition was tracked at Red Room and Ex Ex Audio in Seattle by Robert Cheek (Serial Hawk, Noise-A-Tron etc.) with additional recording taking place at Avast Studios with Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Earth, etc). Matt Bayles (Isis, Mastodon etc.) handled mixing duties and frequent collaborator, Blake Bickel, mastered the album at Dynamic Sound Service.

Both sonically and conceptually engrossing, with The Camel, The Lion, The Child HE WHOSE OX IS GORED — Brian McClelland (guitar, vocals), Lisa Mungo (synths, keyboards, vocals), Mike Sparks (bass) and John O’Connell (drums) – transcend musical boundaries with their meticulous yet organically-executed amalgam of technical guitar compositions and atmospheric synth over a pummeling rhythm section manifesting a uniquely cinematic soundscape that paints a world ready to thrash and burn.

Elaborates McClelland of the band’s latest output: “The Camel, The Lion, The Child is a cup that runs over. From the writing process and through the studio, we made it a point to make the record that we wanted. The songs grow and breathe with their own lives and personalities, and unfold with layers that surprise us to this day. The excellent engineering and mixing of Robert Cheek and Matt Bayles raised the bar, and pushed us to make the best record we could. Now, we share it with you.”

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