The five members of A Horse Called War have been steadily gaining speed and steam since the Oklahoma City metal band broke through the stable in 2002.
With a pair of EPs and a full-length already in the saddle, the Horse has dug its spurs deep, continuously coaxing faster guitar and bass riffing and ever-assailing double bass drumming and a guttural vocal growl that's devolved into an all-out war cry.
It's a ride that's still not rough enough for front man Aaron Korstjens.
"We've really embraced it all " that evil, brutal dark side. Of course it's a metal cliché, but we always want more. Harder, heavier, faster, more technical "¦ we'll never stop pushing ourselves," Korstjens said during a morning break from his job at Tinker Air Force Base, where he works in the shipping department.
A Horse Called War " collectively, Korstjens, guitarists Bryan Slusser and Mark Johnson, bassist Nick Brower and drummer T.J. Mansfield " has shared the stage with acclaimed metal renegades old and new, opening for mainstays like Testament, W.A.S.P and Lamb of God, and well-known recent hardcore acts like Bleed the Sky and Thine Eyes Bleed.
"There's not a band that you can't put us with that we can't support," Korstjens said. "We'll attack that stage. We're ready to take it to that next level."
A Horse Called War will join The Destro, LaZarus and fellow local metal-rockers Heatfix for a 7 p.m. Friday show supporting Massachusetts metalcore giant Unearth. Korstjens expects it to cull a sellout-sized crowd, one he hopes will be a hot, sweaty affair rife with "kids going crazy."
The group has been gigging locally and touring regionally regularly since releasing its full-length, "Becoming," in December 2007. Korstjens, the band's principal songwriter, is already "30 to 40 songs deep" in lyrical material for a new full-length album, which he expects to start recording in the fall or early winter.
"We've got a lot of new riffs, which is how we usually get started writing," he said, "then we slow things down and get busy in the studio."
He said the act's typical process " steering away from a performance schedule to concentrate on writing and rehearsing material for a new recording " helps refocus and direct the members' considerable energy toward engineering songs that will continue testing their skills for years.
"Increasingly, we're becoming better musicians," he said. "We always want to do things we couldn't before, songs or riffs that are heavy and hard that we really have to work at."
A Horse Called War with Unearth, Heatfix, The Destro and LaZarus A.D. perform at 7 p.m. Friday at Bricktown Live, 103 Flaming Lips Alley. "Joe Wertz