Californian outlaws HORSE The Band appear to be living proof of the adage that travel broadens the mind. Because after touring 45 countries last year on a gigging schedule fit to exhaust anybody even reading the itinerary, their Vagrant debut is a hugely ambitious beast that wedges further distance between Nintendo-core roots. Using electronic influences as a more integrated lethal weapon than ever, casting gimmick accusations to one side, ‘Cloudwalker’ decapitates heads in intelligent fashion from the get-go, switching between brutality and subtlety with Refused-esque dexterity. ‘HORSE The Song’ pummels even harder, anthemic choruses book-ended by charging keyboards. While nobody can deny HTB know their way around a structure disregarding scream-a-thon, though, a brace of intriguing guests drive the truly adventurous twin peaks. The austere vocals of Jamie Stewart, from heart-skewering atmospheric indie-rock experimentalists Xiu Xiu, soften ‘Shapeshift’. And quite astonishing (possibly dubiously titled) epic ‘Rape Escape’ sees HORSE’s expansive range cartwheel from spazzcore into keyboard demo breakdowns, Mike Patton-style emoting and finally a haunting undertow from classical pianist Valentina Lisitsa. And with the muscle to back up its delicate moments, ‘Desperate Living’ has the balls-out power to force a lot of potential converts to sit up and take notice.