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Classic rock-influenced power trio aren't just stoner by numbers

The thundering funeral waltz that opens Bloodhorse’s debut EP—newly out on Translation Loss—serves pretty much as a mission statement for the Boston-based power trio. It’s not just the monolithically bluesy central riff that signals the band’s classicist bent; “I’m Burned” is full of lost lore, from the dotted-eighth/sixteenth-note cymbal shuffle drummer Alex Garcia-Rivera deploys on the verse to the way guitarist Adam Wentworth starts working his wah-wah pedal halfway through the song’s double-time freakout.

“To be honest,” bassist Matt Woods explains by phone, “what really brought us together was a mutual love of Deep Purple. At our first few practices, we’d play ‘Space Truckin’ over and over. The three of us have diverse musical interests, but where we’re really united is in our admiration for Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and the Who.”

Bloodhorse pay tribute to the last with a perfectly executed cover of Tommy’s “Sparks.” Unlisted and unheralded as it is, the EP’s closing secret track makes for great mindfuck material. “I’ve heard this before,” you find yourself thinking. “Is this the Who? What the fuck?” To complicate matters further, theirs is the more robust version from Live at Leeds.

“We really wanted to cover something that we didn’t have to sing on. You figure most of the time when you hear a cover, everything is fine until you hear the vocals; then you’re like, ‘OK, I’ll go back to the original.’ The only reason we don’t have a singer is because our drummer begged us not to get one. That and we’re really attracted to the idea of the power trio. This is the first band either of us have ever sung in, except for the odd bit of background yelling. At first, we were terrified about singing—horrified. The first few practices, it was just these two scared guys whispering into the mic.”

That Woods’ voice now sounds a little like the MC5’s Rob Tyner’s is hardly surprising: Bloodhorse are huge fans of the Ann Arbor insurgents. But despite their regard for the titans of yesteryear, the band aren’t so much revivalists as time travelers who use big rock’s salad days as a point of entry into a future unsullied by recent history’s dreck. That they identify with High on Fire is hardly surprising.

“The ’70s were a fascinating time, especially early on,” says Woods “You had the emergence of Sabbath, along with all these crazy bands that never really sold many records but were great. Nothing was really codified. Everything was wide open and up for grabs. That’s what we’re striving for: a world of endless possibilities. We just want to get heavier and heavier, push forward as hard as we can.”

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