This is my first dose of TROUBLED HORSE, even though Crusher Records released a 7" in 2010. I was already aware of the fact that this Swedish band features three members of the original Witchraft line-up, one of which (bassist Ola Henriksson) is still a current member. And then there is lead guitarist John Hoyles, with whom I recently did an interview (click here), although we only talked about his other band Spiders. Alright, so much for the past - let us have a look at the present. 'Step Inside' has been released by Rise Above Records at the beginning of November 2012 and offers exactly what I have expected, namely a big portion of 1970's heavy rock. One is instantly hit by obvious influences such as 1970's Pentagram or Roky Erickson, but you can find parallels to very early Witchcraft too, which were also strongly influenced by those two - thus completing the circle.
Despite all this, TROUBLED HORSE have managed to record an album which is surprisingly multilayered. It can be seen clearly that TROUBLED HORSE is more than the sum of its parts. They are not limited only to a specific 1970's rock style, causing that 'Step Inside' is like a kaleidoscope of the 1960's and 1970's with a focus on raw and melodic songs. The album starts very strong with 'Tainted Water' and I wished that all ten tracks were as mindblowing as this one. This song has been equipped with a great deal of Detroit high energy rock, in particular Sonic's Rendezvous Band as well as Ron Asheton's New Order comes to my mind. What a great tune!
Unfortunately there are other songs that are much less fun - well, at least for me. 'Sleep In Your Head', for example, is too dramatic and it occurs to me that I do have problems with the vocals of rhythm guitarist Martin Heppich. There is a shortage of something, but I don't know what it is. It seems to me that it is because of the peculiar timbres of his voice. But also in other areas, 'Step Inside' doesn't convince me. Despite the numerous efforts, most of the included songs lack the personality needed to stick out of the crowd of 1970's rock devotees. Yes, I know I am repeating myself, but particularly in these days it is more important than ever. Thus, my conclusion is that 'Step Inside' is recommended only for fans of Witchcraft and for those who can't get enough of rock bands who rely on the past. These people will definitely get a solid debut.