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Troubled Horse - Step Inside (Rise Above/Metal Blade Records)

By: David E. Gehlke

[7.5/10] Funny how people are still complaining about the new Witchcraft when clearly there are proper alternatives available. It’s not like the Swedes have the retro rock market 100% cornered; there are numerous options right under everyone’s nose, including Rival Sons, Graveyard, and specifically, Troubled Horse, who just so happen to have current and former Witchcraft members in the ranks. It cracks Blistering up when internet message board hounds are hung up on the production of an album versus the songs. Isn’t that what it’s about? The songs?

As for Troubled Horse, current Witchcraft bassist Ola Henriksson is in the lineup, along with former Witchcraft drummer Jens Henriksson and lead guitarist John Hoyles. Obviously, there’s quite a bit of symmetry between this lineup and the savory sounds of 2007’s The Alchemist, with the only missing part being Magnus Pelander’s old-time croon. Martin Heppich does an admirable job in his place, not sounding unlike the dirty beatnik vocal approach of Graveyard’s Joakim Nilsson. Again, same difference…there’s no real apples and oranges between Troubled Horse and their retro rock contemporaries.

A handful of songs on Step Inside are immediately worth giving a fuss about, namely “Bring My Horses Home,” which unfurls an FM-radio ready chorus from Heppich. The swaggering “Another Man’s Name” holds up the straight rock end of the bargain, as does “One Step Closer to My Grave.” The band’s retro rock aesthetic clinks and clanks sonically as it should, with some eerie movements going down on “Sleep in Your Head” and “As You Sow.”

Considering the parties involved, it’s not much of a surprise that Step Inside functions in such an easy manner. These songs are easy to suck up; they’re no different than the bands we listed above. For Troubled Horse, the hardest thing for them will be escaping the shadow of Witchcraft, which if the internet trolls had their way, would happen at this very second.

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