Way before Pulled Apart By Horses’ 2010 self-titled, deliberately ramshackle and ultra-enthusiastic debut romp, the four-piece’s reputation had been built around their guts- and gore-spattered spectacular live shows. This band emerged from the bowels of a hardcore micro-scene in Leeds and weren’t going to forget that. Their trademark heavy metal riff madness punctuated by slogging rhythms was grimy, ear-splitting and boisterous. But despite the grisly gauntlet laid in their infancy, the band has again managed to convey their live force in this second release.
Tough Love maintains the band’s rawness, yet somehow sounds ever so slightly – and we’re talking granular proportions – smoothed down. Knob-twiddler and sometime Pixies/Foo Fighters collaborator Gil Norton assists here, tailoring Pulled into a leaner but no less beastly machine. Norton has buffed tracks that will glow in a live setting, but also translate well on stereo. The bare bones of the sound again use obvious influences: Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Motörhead. But each band member brings their own tuppence to the table.
This layered approach is evident in lead single V.E.N.O.M. – a guitar-pounding wall of noise that lays in a kind of pastiche hinterland, reminiscent of vintage metal bands, but also touching the realms of slacker rock, punk and even pop. Tom Hudson’s trademark coarse screams feature throughout, but in Epic Myth and Give Me a Reason his vocals make token baby-steps towards the tuneful, giving his shredded gullet some minor respite. But the noise is unrelenting and retains momentum.
Drummer Lee Vincent is the architect of this, deftly controlling his output before exploding into a maelstrom wherever possible, never losing his stride along the way. Towards the end of the album, riffs are reined in and the sound becomes more digestible, allowing separate components to shine. Closer Dipped in Gold begins with sliding chromatic guitars, but then tapers off with some sparse vocal harmonics – as close as these guys get to tame.
Tough Love is swagger and bile in the main, but it’s certainly not executed with knuckleheaded abandon. It may be a bitter pill to swallow on first listen, but it’s completely worth the initial throb.
This review has been used under the creative comms licence. Sourced from BBC Music