Few collaborative projects are as comprehensive or satisfying as A Throne Without a King, which pairs Chapel Hill's ever-evolving avant-metal project Horseback (aka Jenks Miller) with perennial experimental titans Pyramids. On the surface, the full-length — a mostly minimal, entirely bizarre noise piece — has little in common with either band's catalog. Smartly, they include a 7-inch with a solo effort from each outfit to help you make the leap. It works like a charm.
Pyramids' A-side, "Phaedra's Love" is gorgeous and brutal, using punishing drum-led cacophony as the structural support for rich cathedrals of ambient melody. Horseback's "Thee Cult of Henry Flynt" is even better, stretching Miller from his most straightforward black metal assault to a crusty minimalist ending that follows a weeping guitar straight into the grave.
The LP falls somewhere in between. The first of four parts is shifty, building up gusts of steely sound effects that slide out of the mix as though they were being sucked down a drain. Static-y noise takes hold in part two only to give way to a dub-y croon that's every bit as menacing. In part three, the noise becomes a roar with metal clangs echoing in the background, enhancing the song's impressive intimidation factor. The final act finds the static diminished with feedback roaring like beasts underneath. It all gradually fades out. The feedback blares one last time, and it's done.
It's a powerful, mind-altering slab of ever-changing noise, one that demands close attention and then contorts your very perception. Music, no matter the genre, is rarely so affecting.