|Aphrodite's Child - 666 (1972) (Courtesy: Photodude)|
BEHOLD A PALE HORSE
The Four Horsemen is the best known track on the 666 album by Greek progressive rock band, Aphrodite’s Child. It opens with quiet keyboards, tinkling percussion and gentle vocals, then the drums and bass enter with a rock ‘n’ roll riff to accompany the chorus – listing each type of horse: ‘The leading horse is white/ The second horse is red/ The third one is a black/ The last one is a green.’ Lead singer Demis Roussos‘s vocals are high-pitched throughout, but not as quavering as on his later solo easy-listening material. Drummer, Lucas Sideras, demonstrates that you can get a loud sound from a relatively small kit. After the chorus is repeated a fourth successive time, Silver Koulouris plays a fiery guitar solo over a percussive-sounding repeat vocal. Considering that this is a band that features Vangelis, of Chariots of Fire, on keyboards, and Demis Roussos, forever remembered for Forever and Ever, it is curious to hear a predominantly guitar and drums track. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are described in the last book of the New Testament of the Bible, the Book of Revelation 6:1-8. The chapter tells of a book or scroll in God’s right hand that is sealed with seven seals. The Lamb of God, or Jesus Christ, opens the first four of the seven seals, which summons four beings that ride out on white, red, black and pale (or green) horses. The four riders are seen as symbolising: (i) Conquest by holding a bow, (ii) War by holding a sword, (iii) Famine by having a balance for weighing grain and (iv) Death in the form of pestilence, respectively – as recounted in the verses of the song. The Christian apocalyptic vision is that the four horsemen are to set a divine apocalypse upon the world as heralds of the Last Judgement.
The track closes on a couple of ‘ooh’ vocal sounds, reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix‘s intro to Purple Haze. Overall, the arrangement and production are dramatic as befits the subject matter. 666 as a double album, has been criticised for the length of time it sustains a forceful atmosphere, but remains popular with fans of seventies progressive rock. It may be a cliche to describe The Four Horsemen as an epic track, but at nearly six minutes in length it is the longest track on the album and is certainly powerful.