Atmospheric, synth heavy Black Metal stuff is a formula often prone to failure. Typically the synths are way too loud and poorly programmed, the guitars often somewhat ineffectual, and the whole thing turns into a pleasant but boring type of music that brings to mind new age music with some tremelo-d guitars somewhere in the mix.
Fortunately, RIGID HORNS manage to transcend the usual problems that befall bands of this genre. I hear that both of the dudes in this band have some sort of background in computer based music (N and his infamous ATAVIX project, for one), and it certainly shows- the drums are programmed terrifically, and whereas most keyboard playing in this genre consists of 'play a chord every bar', there's plenty of different rythyms and melody lines to keep you interested.
It helps that the songwriting's good. Get the fight scene music from some old Japanese RPG and combine it with SUMMONING, and you're pretty much there. Overall it's a lush, very soothing sound, perhaps a bit too keyboard heavy, but quite pretty nonetheless. "Lycanthropian MindFlight" is a sweet song name, and overall it's probably the best here- the middle section in particular is quite excellent, and overall it's tremelo, keyboard-y goodness is quite hard to resist. "Bleak Shades.." has a fantastic intro, but probably doesn't really deliver on the promise of it's first few minutes or so.
Still, overall I really liked these songs, and upon each new listen I'm definitely enjoying them more. Admittedly the songs conjure up boss battles, energy balls and rare attack +120 swords more so then forests and what not- and while I certainly don't think that intended it's still a rather excellent byproduct of this band. A slightly longer release would've been nice, but considering I got this for free I can't complain. Highly recommended (their first demo is also quite good), and certainly a band with a bright future ahead of it.
(Online May 10, 2008)