US Catholic Faith in Real Life

‘Pale Horses’: Eleven tracks of insanity with a religious twist

mewithoutYou’s newest album is brass and bizarre—and biblical.

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Pale Horses
mewithoutyou (Run for Cover Records, 2015)

mewithoutYou’s newest album is brass and bizarre—and biblical. 

The progressive punk band’s sixth album Pale Horses gallops through 11 tracks of eclectic insanity with a religious twist. Many songs imagine the end times, both in lyrics and in sound. Cymbals crash. Drums blare. Bass lines boom ominously. Listeners are left terrified and intrigued. What does the end hold?

Pale Horses is an all-access pass into lead singer Aaron Weiss’ raw wrestling with religion. Elements of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism loom throughout the album. The stories are tough to understand at first, but they fit with the album’s goal. Faith, like these lyrics, needs to be engaged time and again. 

In their first single, “Red Cow,” mewithoutYou rockets us back to Zion’s hill at the time of Moses. Pale horses come “clanging” in while frogs and locusts plague the Israelites. The music crescendos as Weiss screams with the agony of uncertainty: “Was he a violent man? Or penned by fiction’s hand?” Such questions left me with my own. What stock is put in ancient stories today? Who is keeping me faithful? 

The song “Dorothy” references one of the most intense moments of the New Testament—Jesus’ death on the cross. Weiss sings, “Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani,” which can be translated “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Mark’s gospel has Jesus crying out these last words in his final moments on earth. The song’s reference left me asking where God will be when the end draws near.

Pale Horses ends with a glimmer of hope. In “Rainbow Signs,” illusions to Noah and the flood make way for head-banging Revelation imagery about the final Judgment Day. It’s dark. It’s intense. And then the storm calms. The final stanza pictures Weiss joking around with his dad. 

Maybe the end won’t be so awful after all.

This review appeared in the December 2015 issue of U.S. Catholic (Vol. 80, No. 12, page 40).

Tuesday, December 22, 2015