Emma Ruth Rundle – On Dark Horses album review

Emma Ruth Rundle returns in haunting fashion with On Dark Horses

Emma Ruth Rundle album cover

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On Dark Horses

Emma Ruth Rundle

1. Fever Dreams
2. Control
3. Darkhorse
4. Races
5. Dead Set Eyes
6. Light Song
7. Apathy On The Indiana Border
8. You Don't Have To Cry

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2016’s harrowingly personal Marked For Death album proved to be a word-of-mouth wonder, so it feels apt that On Dark Horses feels more spacious and soaring and more like the work of a collective (Young Widows guitarist Evan Patterson and Dylan Nadon of Wovenhand are among the credited musicians here). Crucially, though, it remains intimate enough to showcase her hauntingly beautiful voice to its full capacity. 

There are also new influences; ambient folk rarely borrows from epic prog metal, but the bassline during the middle of Control builds much like Tool’s Lateralus track. 

Where Marked For Death mirrored her traumatic mindset, with songs crashing over you like waves, here she inhabits a more reflective, accepting and positive headspace. The hypnotic Light Song builds as it expires, adding layers to slowly transform its funereal doom into something transfixingly uplifting. 

This feels as though it’s coming to terms with the events of Marked For Death. On the soothing slide guitar of final track You Don’t Have To Cry she adds a crucial ‘anymore’ to the end of the song’s title. Great artists often tell you their life story through their art, and On Dark Horses will be looked back on as a truly great ‘tale of redemption’ album. 

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.