Pale Horseman Credit: Derek Joseph Quint

On December 8, Chicago’s outstanding sludge doom-metal quartet Pale Horseman started another apocalypse with the release of their fourth full-length, The Fourth Seal (Black Bow). The album finds new drummer Jason Schryver, who joined the band in 2016, adding muscular propulsion to the solid team of bassist Rich Cygan and twin guitarist-vocalists Eric Ondo and Andre Almaraz. Pale Horseman’s live shows are generally pulverizing—and riff monsters like the record’s leadoff track “Final War” will be devastating onstage—but what really gives them depth is their ability to go beyond formula. “Aokigahara” (named for the notorious haunted Japanese suicide forest) breaks halfway through with a clean instrumental interlude that quickly gets filled by twisted, undulating guitar keening that creates an atmosphere of terror and unreality. No light slips through the cracks of the eight-minute “Bereavement” until the six-and-a-half-minute mark, when psychedelic effects begin to peel back the edges of its aural black hole. Tonight is the release party for The Fourth Seal, which should show off this rich beast to its best advantage: loud.   v