The Darkhorse Collective is a three-piece psych/prog outfit from Chicago, IL that consists of Alex Owsiany (bass/vocals), Marty Cooney (drums/vocals) and Tyler Klivickis (guitar/vocals/synths). The band has worked hard to hone their sound through local shows, releasing two singles and a music video. This year also sees them unveiling their debut self-titled album The Darkhorse Collective. The record itself is an amalgamation of different elements from progressive metal, alternative, jazz and more. Their influences range from Modest Mouse to Ween, Alice in Chains, Animalas as Leaders and Angelmaker. Described as “prog Nirvana,” the band certainly has the ability to dance around genres and is able to pull all this off with deliberate dexterity and aplomb. They chose to blur many different genres and influences into their music.
The Darkhorse Collective gets revving with “Intern,” where some mournful guitars take this track by the reins. Slowly the guitars evolve into more arena-rock mode, feeling very prog rock with hits of metal and hard rock. Though this is just an instrumental piece, it seemed like a great way to introduce their sounds. Some psychedelic guitar riffs sound out on “Something Beautiful.” I found the guitars sounded really fantastic here. This track sees the first introduction of vocals. The vocals are echo-y filled with tons of reverb. It is a little hard to discern what the lyrics were saying. In this instant, the music felt jazzy and cool. Wonky guitars flare up with a tad of attitude on “Ocean.” The hushed vocals sound out with a rather subdued vibe. The contrast with the psychedelic guitar riffs is interesting. The intricate instrumentals in the backdrop show the members’ mad skills as musicians. Each instrumental solo highlights this.
Rumbling bass sparsely lights up the start of “The Quickest Way To Kill Yourself.” Next, a voiceover announcement makes for an urgent delivery. The guitars are explosive, spiraling in out-of-control riffs. The band flips the script going for more country-bent blues with some rendering on the acoustic guitar on “The Man.” The vocals are marked with a country-twang twist, making the vibes feel more authentic. This warm song seemed like a departure from the band’s more prog and metal influences seen previously. Some scintillating synths greets the start of “Less Stress More Fests.” The driven nodes of music and the vocals reminded me of punk rock outfits like Green Day and Blink-182. I loved the energy and the band’s delivery on this track. This felt like a great song to rock out to.
Auto-tuned vocals add a robotic flair to “Sonder.” This seemed to be a different direction for the band as they move forward with a more electronic-based sound here. After this unique introduction, the sauntering grooves grow in traction, making way to some harmonious overlapping vocals. A piano melody adds to the vibes. This felt like the most pop-oriented song out of the bunch making it feel like a definite highlight. On “Los Papis,” percussions sizzle in the forefront of this track as some twangy spaghetti western guitars arrive. The drums demand your attention right away as the beats are relentless. I can see hints of surf, Latin and psychedelic in the mix. Some revved bass and guitars make for a driven sound on “Legz 4 Dayz.” The energy could especially be felt in the gritty vocals that had dashes of metal and hard rock in it. The riffs were especially hard-hitting and adamant. Rage-fueled shouts add to the gnarly sounds. The music contained heavy riffs that primarily leaned into a dark sound. The band closes with this raucous closer.
The further in the album you get, the more you get to see that the band likes to jam out. The band explains that most of their songs had already been written by their guitarist Klivickis, while he was going through the process of searching for the right members to complete the project. Once you reach the latter half of the album, the songs really start to come together with the band sounding more in the pocket as a result of their harnessed energies as a newly-formed group. I can really see this happening, as the band members feel more fully synchronized to each other even allowing more room for some innovation and improvisations in the riffs. The album feels like a band getting closer and closer to a more signature-based sound. As the trio continues to develop their sound and style, hopefully they will turn the experiences from their first album and streamline the process into a more cohesive and impactful undertaking in a follow-up release. But for now, The Darkhorse Collective seems like a great record to familiar yourself with in the meantime. This proved to be a great introduction to the band’s sounds and I look forward to seeing more from them in the future.
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