Working the metal

BY ERIC ANDERSEN | JULY 17, 2009 7:15 AM

mp3 sample: The Horde

"Bleed Into Eternity"

If heavy metal was a religion, its bible would include Iron Maiden, Slayer, and Celtic Frost. The Horde manages to take these old-school elements and turn them into something new.

“The Horde is like all the metal that we’ve ever listened to growing up all slapped together into one band,” guitarist Tim Matthews said. “It’s got elements of power metal, black metal, and a little bit of death metal in it. It’s got new wave of British heavy-metal style in it as well — dual guitar harmonies and solos. Hard-core stuff, too.”

The Illinois- and Iowa City-based metal band will perform today at 9 p.m. at the Picador, 330 E. Washington St., with Freaklabel and Identity Crisis. Admission is $5 for the 19-and-over show.

Matthews is the primary songwriter in the group, and he plays guitar alongside fellow shredder John Hopkins, vocalist/bassist Duncan, and drummer James Whitehurst. The Horde’s début album, From Empire to Ashes, dropped in 2008, and since then, the members have played as many shows as possible.

The group is writing the follow-up to its first album and plans on heading to the studio by the end of this year.

“There’s going to be a better flow on this album,” Matthews said. “It’s a concept album based on a short story I wrote. It’s completely swords and sorcery, but if you are willing to scratch beneath the surface, it deals with topics going on in the world now.”

The new album has a more varied sound, Hopkins said, including some slower heavy songs not found on From Empire to Ashes.

“There’s more Celtic Frost type stuff,” he said. “It’s not like balls-out all the time.”

When the band performs live, it puts on a show reminiscent of metal bands from the ’80s speed-metal scene. Both guitar players trade off leads and play harmonies that would make Iron Maiden guitarists Adrian Smith and Dave Murray proud.

“It’s usually just kind of like slide by the seat of the pants, turn the amps up to 10, and go for it,” Hopkins said. “We like going into these kind of out-of-the-way places that most bands don’t go to where the kids are just ravenous when a metal band shows up.”

Matthews said he’s been told it’s a different experience to watch the group perform live.

“It’s loud, in your face, and pretty much nonstop,” he said.

Both of the Horde’s guitarists said they can’t wait to play tonight’s show.

“It’s gonna rock, and it’s gonna be awesome,” Hopkins said.

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