Can metal and indie exist side by side? This band have the answer

(Image credit: Sugar Horse)

It’s an eternal struggle for people who like both metal and indie music: can you ever truly get your fix of both styles in one band? Where can I find the crushing, distorted riff driven heaviness of a Converge from my indie bands, and where can I experience the lilting, beauty and melodic croon I get from Echo And The Bunnymen in the metal scene?

There’s been a few bands who have come close, but none of them have brought together these two stylistic enemies like Sugar Horse. The Bristol quartet have only been a band since 2016, but on their most latest release, DRUGS, they have finally nailed that “Smiths with Riffs” sound that I’ve always dreamed about.

The opening title track is jam packed with scathingly brutal, off kilter metallic hardcore of the Trap Them/Black Breath variety. Yet that’s just a taster of what Sugar Horse are capable of. By the time you’ve journeyed through Pity Party and Richard Branson In The Sky With Diamonds, namechecking everyone from Depeche Mode to Joy Division, Botch to Siouxsie And The Banshees, Emperor to Mogwai as you go, you reach the sublime When September Rain: an 8-minute swell that sounds like Cult Of Luna and The Cure cuddling each other. Which, as if it needs to be said, is a fantastic thing.

This is the point that I realised that, not only do Sugar Horse appear to have reached into my mind and pulled out a sonic reference to practically every band of every genre I hold dear, but they’re capable of matching the breadth and ambition of all of them. Sugar Horse has pulled on every different strand of alternative music and woven them into a masterpiece that’s all their own.

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.