Label: Sun & Moon Records Release date: 24 July 2020
Dead Bronco was created in 2011 when vocalist Matt Horan grew weary of the music scene in his home state of Florida. Eventually he traveled to greener pastures, finding a new home and community in Spain. The band started their musical career in 2012 with their album In Hell, talent immediately bursting out of the then-rising artists. On it, Horan beautifully alternates between the baleful yodel of a blues singer and the quick-paced twang of a down south country music star.
Horan backs himself on guitar and is aided by the strings and keys of Alex Atienza. He has David Rodriquez on drums, and a somewhat enigmatic bassist who simply goes by “Mud”. With passionate energy present in every track, the quartet successfully evokes the feeling of sitting on a barstool at a hole in the wall, nursing another round of Tennessee whiskey as the clouds of cigarette smoke who call themselves pool players change the record in the dusty jukebox. Their sound is rough, emotional, and truly remarkable right out the gate, and they don’t ever slow down.
Dead Bronco’s albums are all short and sweet, at about half an hour long each. It makes their near-annual turnover time less surprising but absolutely no less impressive. However, with each release, they have made their sound tighter, more complex, and also darker. Shifting from their initial country cow punk stylings toward americana and psychobilly and eventually landing on black folk, Dead Bronco squarely seat themselves somewhere between the likes of King Dude and Type O Negative.
The band dialed this back a bit with 2015’s aptly-named EP, Moanin’ the Blues. It is a beautiful five-track tribute to Country and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Hank Williams. However, by 2018’s Driven by Frustration, the original mopey, bluesy sound Dead Bronco started with is all but lost and replaced with something a little more unique to their own spirit: gruff, bold, and indeed, frustrated. Then, in 2019 the group released The Annunciation, reaching number two in the charts in their home country of Spain. Now, in addition to Driven by Frustration, The Annunciation is receiving a well-deserved international release.
The Church of the Endless Road starts the album with a low, slightly off-key ballad. It slowly evolves from a single guitar and country vocals to the heavy and twisted black folk Dead Bronco does best. Stop Watching Me keeps the train rolling as it alternates between a spooky, downright evil monologue and an aggressive and sweaty explosion of sound. The guitars taking on a bit of a punk sound under Horan’s ragged screams. The next track, Make Me Sick, is a toe-tapping sing-a-long with burned edges. It also contains a mildly fuzzed out guitar that is best played on repeat with a drink in hand. Hot on the heels of the previous is Been Saved, whose quick pace and chugging drums practically beg for a mosh pit before it crashes to a close in just under two minutes.
Gears shift again with Do Us Part, a slower and sadder track. In here Dead Bronco makes excellent use of an organ, the haunting sound contrasting with the heat in Horan’s voice. Halfway through, Horan once again dons that evil sound on What Have You Been, a villainous solo–with the suggestion of henchmen–that creeps out of the shadows and strikes unsuspecting ears.
Next, Mutinous Skin is another quick-paced tune, but this time less fun and more rancorous. Rodriguez absolutely banging the drums while Atienza and Horan supply monster rock type riffs. A peculiar tune from the guitar and a soft crashing of cymbals mark That Devil, a track that starts soft and sombre before turning malicious and twisted, Horan’s half-fearful, half-vengeful pleas echoing until the end.
Then, Suicide is All I Think Of plays a monotonous and hypnotic melody that practically summons Horan, his demonic screams all that his voice supplies to this chilling track. next, Prayers is more of that psychobilly sound found on previous releases, carefully tinged black with creepy guitar riffs that contrast sharply with Horan’s country-slash-punk-slash-metal vocals. At last, the final track on the album is the eponymous The Annunciation, whose furious guitars and rattling cymbals under Horan’s insistent growls finally complete the barely noticeable transition to the definitive metal sound that Dead Bronco has been seeking to achieve the past few albums.
Dead Bronco take a few ingredients from country, punk, and metal. Then toss them in a bowl with a little blood and spit, and whip up a sharp and filthy sound. You can feel it in your soul. Their songs come in a variety of moods and styles, each one perfectly crafted and dripping with technical skill and natural-born talent. If you miss the good old days of americana and gothic rock, their early albums are the way to go. But if you want something messy and dark that burns like the corners of country-fried hell from which it came, The Annunciation–and whatever future catalogue Dead Bronco has to offer–cannot be overlooked.
- Matt Horan: Vocals, guitar
- Alex Atienza: Guitar, keys
- Mud: Bass
- David Rodriguez: Drums
- The Church of the Endless Road
- Stop Watching Me
- Make Me Sick
- Been Saved
- Do Us Part
- What Have You Been
- Mutinous Skin
- That Devil
- Suicide is All I Think Of
- The Annunciation