Black Mare “Death Magick Mother” Album Review + Stream…

BLACK MARE 

Death Magick Mother – Vinyl (coming soon) // DD

Magic Bullet Records – Release Date September 15th, 2017

Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr

 

 

Location:
Los Angeles, California

Previous Releases:
“Field Of The Host” (2013)

“Iseult” single (2014)

“BLACK MARE / Syndrome” split LP (2014)

“Low Crimes” single (2015)

 

Review:
Black Mare, the solo project of Sera Timms (Ides of the Gemini, ex-Black Math Horseman), and focuses on conveying a world of meaning with a minimalistic vocabulary. With a focus on rhythmic repetition and atmospheric simplicity, Black Mare steps outside the collaborative dynamic to reveal a creative process that is all Sera’s. Black Mare immerses the listener into her own mythical world, an aurally lush, yet glacially-paced cruise through Timms’ frozen world wherein she encourages the mind’s eye to notice relics like the feathers of fallen angels scattered about the snow.

This latest release goes further into the shadowed realms of contemplation and darkened spheres that exists between the here and there, the now and the then and all hidden points between. Sera masterfully guides us along, showing the landmarks of her mindscape along the way.

 

 

From opener ‘Ingress To Form’ through ‘Femme Couverte’ to ‘Death By Desire’, the ringing clarity of the vocal layers haunting every shadow along the journey. As her ringing bass notes lead us into the ‘Coral Vaults’ that are seemingly filled with ethereal guitar notes that wrap themselves through the cadence set, flowing into ‘Babylon’s Fold’, hypnotic and morose in tone, unrelenting even as the soft cymbal washes back and forth.

Even as ‘Kala’ comes in, once the muted chords lead directly into Sera‘s vocal, commanding and demanding in her beckoning execution, further summoning the roar of her vision of deafening inevitability. Closer ‘Inverted Tower’ begins with that signature vocal layering that is the signature mark and this tale is the exacting summation of where we have traveled so far and nothing is left on the table.  All ingredients and flavors swirled together to give us this opus to satiate the mind and heart in the secrets and shadows that are revealed throughout.

36 minutes made up of a cohesive gathering of seven saga’s that flow from and to each other effortlessly. Grab this one immediately, share the wonder with every ear you come in contact with and support them live if you are granted the chance to and keep it LOUD!!

 

Promo Image

The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic “Through The Dark Matter” Album Review + Stream…

In Case You Missed It Series – Episode 6

THE ULTRA ELECTRIC MEGA GALACTIC 

Through The Dark Matter – CD // DD

Orbit Unlimited Records – released April 21, 2014

Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr

 

FormedJanuary 1, 2006

LocationLos Angeles, California USA

Line up:
ED MUNDELL / Guitar (MONSTER MAGNET / THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX)
COLLYN MCCOY / Bass (TRASH TITAN / OTEP)
RICK FERRANTE /Drums (SASQUATCH)

 

Band Pic

 

Previous Releases:

“UEMG-s/t” (2013)

Pending release 2017

To call this a super group is to over-simplify. When Ed’s main focus with Monster Magnet went on hiatus, he needed something to do and in their own words, created and morphed into “a no nonsense, psychedelic, space rock orgy built on riffs and classic 70’s guitar rock. Not having to cater to the masses and with absolute disregard to mainstream commercial music industry dictate, The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic came forth like an acid-trip super nova.” And having tripped out, jangly guitar heroes like Tomy Bolin listed with the likes of Captain Beyond and the trippiness of Hawkwind referenced, the end result is even MORE than you could have expected.

 

Five tracks clocking at just over 25 minutes, from the first notes of ‘Small Magnetic cloud’ all the way to the ending of ‘Large Magnetic Cloud’, each possible facet and cloud has been explored, from the headiness of title track ‘Through The Dark Matter’ to the expanses of ‘Day Of The Comet’, the enormity of each player here is in full-force. It shines in the purity of expression the freedom allotted has given them the power to wield in all it’s mushroom tinged might and the suns and moons change trajectory to glimpse a piece of this vortex that swirls effortlessly. Even with the one song to have lyrics ‘Spoonful’ as the intro drumline delivers with the panache of a legend as easily as casting a glance.

If you haven’t bought this one yet, do yourself the favor and get them both if you can. Then share it out to anybody you think would appreciate it.  “Through The Dark Matter,” hell both Albums, are perfect for headphones turned to 11 to capture each note you may have missed from the last listen. There is talk directly on their website of a 2017 release and I know I will be keeping my eyes peeled for that as I recommend should you, support these guys in a live format if the come to your area and keep it LOUD!!

‘Rockets Aren’t Cheap Enough’ Live at Desert Fest in 2014 off their “S/T” Debut Album


Collide “Color of Nothing” Album Review + Stream…

COLLIDE

Color Of Nothing – CD // DD

Self Released + Crowdfunded – released May 25, 2017

Album Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr

 

Formed – 1992

LocationLos Angeles, California USA

MemberskaRIN – vox / Statik – sounds

Previous Releases – “Beneath The Skin” (1996), “Distort” remix collection (1998), “Chasing The Ghost (2000), “Some Kind Of Strange” (2003), “Vortex” remix collection (2004), “Like The Hunted” DVD/Live CD (2005), “Two Headed Monster” (2008), “These Eyes Before” (2009), “Counting To Zero” (2011), “Bent And Broken” (2012)

COLLIDE is a duo founded in 1992 incorporating elements of electronica, trip hop and synth-pop combined with a darker edge to create something esoteric in nature and ethereal in execution, delivering a hybrid that is like nothing before. They have worked with artists of the highest esteem during their existence including the likes of Charlie Clouser, Dean Garcia (CURVE) and Danny Carey (TOOL), and they keep pumping out their own flavor of music to the masses.

“Color Of Nothing” is the first offering in almost five years and kaRIN and Statik decided this time out to fund the album publicly, citing this move as a way to gauge if anyone still cared… with this release, the answer is a resounding YES and the result is amazing!!

 

Promo Pic

 

Eleven tracks clocking in at just over an hour, this collection of songs represents the BEST yet to come from this powerhouse and shows they are in top form and ready to take their place in your library. From the opening track ‘Wake Up’ through to closer ‘Pale Blue’, the edge is right there with all the ‘fixings’ to make this a feast for your auditory senses, including twists and turns to keep you moving all along. Flavorings of bands like KMFDM and MY LIFE WITH THE THRILL KILL KULT are sprinkled throughout with a splash here and there of LORDS OF ACID type progressions all serving kaRIN’s existential voice that cuts through with razor-precision and hits you between the eyes with her haunting delivery. ‘Soul Crush’ is a great example as she reminds us that “We are all human” in her signature siren-song voice.

‘Fix’ shines extra bright for ME, as the standout track from this album. Soft and slow for the first 40 seconds before the drum line hits between your eyes and then kaRIN grabs hold and drags you along, willingly through the guitar lines and floating hypnotic melody of the rest of the body of the song.  Even as drum fills jump out at you here and there, making the flow seamless as you traverse along Statik’s masterful arrangement. I could go on and on about each track here as they are each as strong as every other composition brought together here, but the BEST way for you to understand this record is to go GET IT, share it with every pair of ears you come across.  Support Collide in the live format if you are blessed with the opportunity and most importantly, keep it LOUD!!

Band Pic

MADLIFE “Precision in the Face of Chaos” Album Review & Music Video…

MADLIFE

Precision In The Face Of Chaos – CD // DD

Bleeding Nose Records – Released May 5th, 2017

Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr

 

 

Formed – 2000

Current Lineup Angry Phill -v / Isaiah Stuart -g / Kyle Cunningham -d / DieTrich Thrall -b

Previous Releases “Madlife” EP (2005) / “Music As Harsh As The World We Live In” EP  (2005) / “Angry Sonnets For The Soul” (2007) re-released via Universal /Fontana / RBE (2009) / “21st Century Megalomaniac” (2013)

Quote– “Developed in early 2000, the industrial hard rock band from Los Angeles was contrived between guitarist Isaiah Stuart and Lead Singer Angry Phill. They found common ground in their like and respect for multiple styles of music, largely in hard rock, industrial, electronic and classic pop. During this time, “The expression of emotion,” says Phill, “And the range of musical depth allowed MADLIFE the luxury to explore the human condition.” Enquote.

Pro Band Shot

This is a band that has been touring endlessly, playing festivals all the way from the world-famous Milwaukee Metalfest, the Mayhem Festival and Rock Hard At The Park, to name a few, they have shared the stage with the likes of KORN / SLAYER / PRONG / ALL THAT REMAINS / TRIVIUM and so many more, it is no wonder they have endorsements in place and are ready to unleash a new one on the world and the timing couldn’t be better.

***The band has current endorsements from Ernie Ball, In Tune Guitar Picks, Schecter Guitars, Fryette Amps, Line 6, and Meinl Cymbals.***

Listing their influences as bands ranging from ROB ZOMBIE to COMBICHRIST to MUSHROOMHEAD  to LINKIN PARK, MADLIFE has combined these elements and more into this fifth official release and comes out swinging HARD from the first second to the very end.  This album can very well take this Los Angeles based band to the next level.

Songs with all of the edge and attitude we have come to expect from Phill are in extreme abundance as with ‘Just One Gun’ where we get asked right off “Would you like to sing that angry song with me?” to the pummeling, staggered-beat intro of ‘Nothing Changes’ to straight ahead machine bounce of ‘Pain Of Pleasure’, each taking you in a different direction showing all of the listed influences seasoned with just enough rage-to-taste making it MADLIFE’s blend on your fork even with ‘Love Song’ hammering your ears with that special sauce that we have come to know.

12 songs clocking in at 43 minutes and for me, two standout from the rest, and for completely different reasons. ‘Rockstar’ hits hard with a DOPE meets UNION UNDERGROUND sorta punch and describes all the trappings that drive so many to be in this business and has that MADLIFE sonic-kick intact and full force. Then, there’s ‘All The Angels’ that screams from the first and has that hook that doesn’t let go.

Stellar production values, songs that deliver and leave you wanting more. Sounds like one to get NOW and play until your ears are ringing. Support them live if they come near you and keep it LOUD!!

Thank you to AGAINST PR AGENCY and Bleeding Nose Records for the Promo

Band Logo


Ides Of Gemini – “Women” Album Review & Stream…

IDES OF GEMINI

Women – Vinyl // CD // DD 

Rise Above Records – Released April 28th, 2017

Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr

 

Current Location: Los Angeles CA

Band Members: Sera Timms, J. Bennett, Scott Batiste, Adam Murray

Previous Releases: Old World New Wave (Neurot September 2014) / Hexagram 45 7″ (Magic Bullet, April 2013) / Constantinople (Neurot, May 2012) / Ides Of Gemini / Vermapyre split (Magic Bullet, February 2012) / The Disruption Writ EP (November 2010)

Review:

What started as a two member project at some point in 2010 (or before), has since become a four member force. Core members Sera and J. began this journey as a cult/Slavic revival type of project using all things dark and ethereal and forging their own sound of plush harmonies and foreboding imagery in their compositions that keep fans coming back for more and dragging their friends along for the ride. With this new line-up and fifth release, IDES OF GEMINI are ready to take us to the next-level as they serve up 10 tracks, each about a woman as the title implies.

Pro Band Pic

 

‘Mother Kiev’ comes out of the gate fast and strong showing this new line-up is serious and ready to prove it. Power chords running amock and a drumline that takes full control of the body and that bass line, the perfect accent. Sera’s voice has never sounded better and J.’s chops are as biting as you could expect. ‘The Rose’ has a more tempered pace and Sera’s voice writhes around your head with her signature crescendo and lilt all the way through the slide out ending. ‘The Dancer’ is more staccato in pace and the choppy guitar lines flow seamlessly. ‘Raft Of Medusa’ has a lone guitar intro and then the band jumps up and rolls through this tale, not afraid to go all out with this pace that pulls you forth without resistance. ‘Heroine’s descent’ is slower and darker than we have been to this point on the record and lets the IDES OF GEMINI legacy of plush vocals shrouded in shadows continue with an even bigger sound than we have witnessed on any previous release while keeping that thicker guitar presence brought to this album permeate with an intensity that completes the recipe that J. and Sera have been perfection for the last seven years plus. ‘Swan Diver’ / ‘Zohra’ / ‘She Has A Secret’ and’Queen Of New Orleans’ are each strong compositions on their own and continue the stellar performance from EACH member to make this record the best to come yet from the IDES OF GEMINI camp and whether intentional as a concept or not, they fit perfectly together as a whole and show what focus and perseverance can achieve.

Standout track on this record, for ME, is ‘The Last Siren’. From the slow fade in of the thundering drum/bass combo to the jangly yet biting guitar line, complete with staggered fills, I found myself moving with involuntarily and turning it up louder and louder while feeling wrapped in that soaring voice and welcoming and savoring each high note and low alike.

This could and SHOULD be the one to break them out to the rest of the world and I encourage to do your part; BUY the record, support them when they make it to your part of the world and tell anybody you know to do the same. Once they hear this, they will have to agree it is a must-have for 2017!!


Aeges – “Weightless” Album Review & Stream…

Aeges

Weightless – Vinyl // CD // DD

Another Century Records – Available Now

Reviewed by Andy “Humdinger” Beresky

 

 

It’s always tough for me to be critical of a band that I love.  However, when I made the decision to start writing reviews again, one of the things that I promised myself was that I wouldn’t pull any punches.  I don’t want to be the guy who blindly loves everything and writes hyperbolic praises of every band that graces his speakers.  I honestly don’t think that’s constructive, and for me personally, when someone does that, I stop reading their reviews, because I know that I can’t trust their opinions.

Which brings us to Aeges.  Since I heard their debut album, The Bridge, I’ve been a huge fan; it combined big riffs with big hooks in such a compelling way, a balance of lightness and heaviness that was right up my ally. Boasting members of Pelican, Shift and 16 didn’t hurt their cause either.  Two of the members were also a part of San Angelus, a pretty straight forward post-hardcore band, and Aeges definitely incorporate elements of that sound.  Interestingly enough, Aeges was apparently formed as a side project because of geographic obstacles with the members of San Angelus – some of the band were in California, while some were in Vancouver.

 

Pro Live Shot

Their sophomore album, Above And Down Below upped the ante, expanding this formula into an axiom.  They’d changed guitarists and added a dual vocal approach.  As a result, the interplay of the vocal hooks and the heavy riffs is just brilliant.  Every song is chock full of both of these elements, and it’s just a recipe for an album with staying power that deepens with every listen, in my experience.    Their songwriting had drastically improved from the first album to the second.  The rhythm section is also pounding and poignant.  I’d list out who plays what for you, however, the “bio” section of their website is down, and their label’s website has a terrible design.  They’ve positioned the text for the bio over a picture of the band, and frankly it’s illegible.  Part of the photo is white or off-white, and the text is also white on top of it.  Who does that??   I can’t read that!! Did they pay a web designer??  I guess I could look up the info on the band’s Facebook, but then again, so can you.  If you’re interested, I suggest that you do so.  Let’s get back to the music; it’s like a wet dream for fans of Queens Of The Stone Age and Deftones, a band that’s heavy as a dump truck full of cement and steel, yet with modern, experimental and radio-friendly characteristics that make them one hell of a crossover act.  The deluxe version even included some incredibly cool covers of Cheap Trick, Corrosion Of Conformity, and Elliot Smith, along with a couple acoustic renditions of album tracks.  It was relentlessly ambitious in approach, arrangement and scope, and it seemed like Aeges were really poised to go places.

This brings us to Weightless, the band’s third album.  First, I really question the band’s decision to include the song “Echoes,” originally the debut track off of Above And Down Below.  I don’t understand the logic of re-recording and including this song, with only a slightly different arrangement and production.  The band stated that they wrote 30 songs for the album.  I’m feeling rather confused, you wrote 30 songs for your new album, yet rather than showcase one of the other 18 songs that aren’t included, you’re going to include the opener from your prior album? As a fan, frankly, I feel a bit cheated, and I really just don’t understand what they were thinking.  Perhaps if they read this, they can let me know.  I’m all for conversations.  If you ever want to question one of my band’s decisions, please, don’t hesitate to reach out.  I’ll be real with you.

Secondly, I don’t like this record as much as Above And Down Below.  It’s fairly obvious what they’re going for – the vocal arrangements are emphasized, and the riffs take a bit of a backseat in comparison.    I suppose that’s fine and dandy, I mean, the vocals do sound terrific and make great usage of Aeges’s two vocalist approach.  However, I’m a guitarist who sings minimally, so I’m biased.  I’ll admit it.  I want to hear the guitars take the forefront more often than not, and that’s sorely lacking on Weightless. The album is aptly named, as for me, it’s simply lacking in the weight of its predecessors.  It’s like they took that same dump truck, and they filled it with Cool Whip instead, because everyone loves Cool Whip. It’s not like there are no heavy riffs and cool guitar parts on Weightless, quite the opposite.  It’s just that for my perspective, the guitar work on Above And Down Below was downright magical and packed such a wallop.  There were more experiments with tone and texture. That album was such a high point for the band, and my expectations were high for Weightless.  This doesn’t live up. It’s even hard for me to talk about individual songs, honestly, because the only one that stands out is “Echoes”, from Above And Down Below, and as I said, it’s a different version that once again plays up the vocals and downgrades the guitars.

Regardless, it’s a great album with well-crafted songs, strong production and remarkable vocal arrangements.  Some people may regard it as their best album, I can see that.  Remember the jump that Metallica made between ….And Justice For All and The Black Album?? This is an equivalent and equidistant leap. Other than the inclusion of “Echoes”, I can’t really point to any glaring flaws other than the tamer production and the overemphasis on the vocals.  I’m wondering if that’s a conscious choice coinciding with their label change, if they’ve got their eyes on the bigger picture of mainstream radio rock success.  If that’s their motive, I have to say that’s a shame, because I’d like to think that their prior approach was strong enough to give them radio play.   I’m also wondering if rather than writing 30 songs for a new album, they might have been better served focusing more on the intricate details of the ones they chose to include, and had also written something solid enough that they didn’t have to rehash one from the last album.  They’re not BAD songs, don’t get me wrong.  They just don’t possess the weight or the intangible intrepid spirit.  There are not enough risks on this album for me to get totally behind it.  It’s safe as skim milk.  Great art requires us all to drink moonshine straight from the still from time to time.

Tour Schedule:

Aeges_Chevelle Tour Schedule

IDES OF GEMINI Share New Song ‘The Rose’

The fantastic retro-vibe rock band Ides Of Gemini will release their new album, ‘Women‘, through Rise Above Records on April 28th. Today, Taste Nation LLC is excited to be able to share Cult Nation‘s premiere of one of the tracks off the stunning new LP, “The Rose“. The song’s slow-revolving style and ethereal heaviness are exactly the type of traits we’ve all come to love within the music of Ides Of Gemini. – Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker

IoG LP

Women Track Listing:
1. Mother Kiev
2. The Rose
3. The Dancer
4. Raft of Medusa
5. Heroine’s Descent
6. Swan Diver
7. The Last Siren
8. Zohra
9. She Has a Secret
10. Queen of New Orleans

 


New Album Review – Devil’s Witches “Velvet Magic

Devil’s Witches

Velvet Magic – Vinyl // CD // DD

Cursed Tongue Records – released March 20, 2017

 

If you are ready for a psychedelic groove fuzz-fest, then this record might just be the thing for you. Devil’s Witches call Los Angeles home and judging by the subject matter on this record, you can tell where the inspiration to write this record came from. Upon first listen, it felt that the songs on offer here must be conceptually tied to one another. After researching their Facebook page, the suspicions were confirmed. The concept follows a discharged United States Vietnam soldier who is seduced by a voodoo woman who uses her powers to start a new world. “The story spans from the jungles of Vietnam, to the go-go bars of L.A. onto the Black Forest mountain region of south-west Germany and into France. It’s a tale of sex, seduction, exploitation, war, and redemption” and each track feels like a new chapter in a book.

Band Logo

 

Opening track, “Apache Snow” begins the proceedings with a textbook fuzzed out stoner riff. Lyrically, this song paints a vivid picture of what it must have been like to be in Vietnam during those tumultuous times in the 1960s. “Lying in the blood of the fallen, I bet you feel real groovy now” — yes, yes I do.  The mid song break is a psychedelic dream with flavors of the Orient which is followed by a great little jam session. “Pornodelic Opium Dreams” provides a well-placed interlude in the form of an acid-psyche instrumental. This one takes you on quite the journey (mushrooms optional).  “Voodoo Woman” has a few progressive flashes that provide a more unique and adventurous take on the genre of music Devil’s Witches play. “Velvet Magic” begins with a sexy, laid back feel followed by a welcomed change of pace upon its mid-song break and a faster paced guitar solo before going full circle and ending the way it began. The musical variety on this track certainly takes you on quite the musical venture. This grade of velvet magic is assuredly sublime. However, can’t help but wonder if these songs would be that much better with a clearer vocal production to contrast the fuzz. Videos for “Apache Snow”, “Voodoo Woman”, and “Velvet Magic” are all worth watching too as they each fit the overall vibe of the record with visuals that paint a more concrete picture of what the band is going for musically.

 

Promo Kit

 

Devil’s Witches have provided a valiant debut effort. Musically, conceptually, and atmospherically it takes you places. Despite the current abundance of new bands playing this genre of music, Devil’s Witches provide catchy arrangements that are well worth a listen and with a unique ability to paint an accurate picture about the subject matter at hand. Looking forward to what this band will come up with in the future. In the meantime, I’m ready to take this journey again.

 

Words by Santiago “Santos” Gutierrez


ASHEN HORDE ‘The Alchemist’ EP Review & Stream; Lyric Video

Ashen Horde

The Alchemist:  DD – March 14th // Limited 7″ Vinyl – shipping around April 14, 2017

Los Angeles, the city of lost, or fallen angels in this case, is home to the the two-man duo that is Ashen Horde. That duo, multi-instrumentalist Trevor Portz and vocalist Stevie Boiser, have just recently issued their 2-song EP, “The Alchemist“. If you know anything about this project then you know what they specialize in: fiercely scathing, viciously volatile blackened thrash metal. That fact is more then validated and reinforced here as these two tracks, “Arisen” (lyric video below) and “Fallen“, channel a transformative tempest of sonics that pummel your senses. Dizzying leads race to and fro upon the frets while machine gun-like drums pound away and drive the tracks with ever-forward propulsion.

Pro Band Shot

 

Keeping things fluid and even somewhat on the melodic side, the Ashen Horde pair unquestionably deliver the goods with their solid, well-structured style of what is akin to controlled chaos.  It is furiously Metallic music through and through while the powerful, razor blade-throat vocals snarl forth their venomous verbiage without relent. So, the latest call to the altar from Ashen Horde, “The Alchemist,” is streaming on their Bandcamp (below) and I recommend you give it a spin if so inclined.

For bands who like:  Skeletonwitch, Goatwhore, Satyricon

 

Link:

 

 Words by Patrick “Riot” Whitaker


New Album Review – Horisont “About Time”

Horisont

About Time – Vinyl / CD / DD

Century Media Records – Release Date:  February 3rd 2017

 

“Odyssey” really saw them forge their own path instead of being a Witchcraft/Graveyard also-ran. – Brian “Butch” Balich

 

I hope that Brian Balich, of Argus fame (for starters), doesn’t mind me quoting him to start off this review, though he beautifully summed up my thoughts on Horisont with this one sentence when we were recently having a lively Facebook discussion regarding their releases.  I remember getting my hands on the first Horisont record some years ago, I believe it was when I was writing reviews for the now defunct Stonerrock.com, as that was a period in my life when I had all kinds of random promos floating through my home office.  I remembered that they were a Swedish retro 70’s rock band, as was very much in vogue at the time with the success of Graveyard and Witchcraft, though they sang a considerable deal more in Swedish than Witchcraft, and there was a little more of ZZ Top’s boogie and swagger in their sound than was typical of the other throwback bands of the era.  These guys obviously owned well-worn copies of Cactus albums.  That was really the extent of the impression that their debut left upon me.  It was well written, it was cleverly crafted and executed with style and poise, though for me personally, there wasn’t much to distinguish Horisont from any other band devoted to that big blues rock sound of lore.  When I later received a promotional copy of their sophomore album, Second Assault, it just sounded like more of the same, and I kind of wrote them off as exactly what Butch described: a hopeful band following in the footsteps of these aforementioned other more successful bands, and ultimately finding themselves swallowed in the shadows instead.

 

Great Band Shot

 

With this in mind, it was with some surprise that I found more than a few people heralding Horisont’s 2015 album, Odyssey, as their favorite of the year.  Granted, I’d no longer kept up on the band, because  honestly there’s just too much music out there for any one person to fully absorb in a live time, and they’d just done nothing thus far to captivate my ever-ebbing attention span.  Still, there was something so insistent, so fanatical about the praise being heaped on Odyssey, from people that I knew and trusted. I had to check it out for my lonesome.

I’m glad that I did, because it’s a real gem, a literal diamond in the proverbial rough.  It blew me totally out of the water – right out of left field, Horisont had unleashed the best conceptual sci-fi metal album these ears had heard since Slough Feg’s most triumphant Traveler.    Perhaps there was some trace of this transition in the band’s third album, Time Warriors, which I’d never heard prior to starting this review. I intend to remedy this situation and find out for myself.  Okay, fuck it….I listened to it on YouTube just now, and although it’s a leap forward from the first two albums, flirting with some NWOBHM and prog rock influences, it’s nowhere near as actualized as Odyssey.  Perhaps it was the addition of second guitarist Tom Sutton, who had previously played in a past incarnation of Japanese doom mongers Church Of Misery, that galvanized Horisont to so radically step up their game on their fourth album.  The most obvious point of departure from the prior albums is the sheer scope of influence that Odyssey so seamlessly encompasses.  It’s also worth pointing out that in their bio, they straight up state that it was Tom’s idea to write the ten minute song that eventually morphed into the title track, so there’s that.  At any rate, this is the album that The Sword wished that they’d pulled off with Warp Riders, a 70’s throw back album that goes heavy on the science fiction elements without going full prog and thus sacrificing the bodacious boogie.

As much as I’d love to wax poetic about Odyssey for another several paragraphs, I’m going to resist that constant temptation for tangents, just this once.  Instead, let’s fast forward a bit to the present moment; the year is 2017, and Horisont is on the verge of releasing their follow-up album, About Time.     Tom Sutton is out, some other guy named David is in.  This is their first album that’s coming out on Century Media, about a year and a half after Rise Above released Odyssey.  I bring these things up strictly because they’ve boxed themselves into a very tight corner, coming off a real creative high point, signing with a new label, replacing a guitarist, then perhaps feeling some pressure to establish themselves on said label with a new release that’s going to follow up their crowning achievement.  That’s a tall order, and a year and a half isn’t a lot of time to deliver.

About Time does ultimately deliver, capitalizing on the same strengths that marked its predecessor.  It’s another progressive proto-metal album that reminds me of the mid-70’s output of some of my favorite bands of the era: Scorpions, Rush, Thin Lizzy, Blue Oyster Cult, Uriah Heep, Judas Priest, you get the idea.  Musically, there’s a ton of super cool things going on.  I can’t find a credit anywhere for who is covering the keyboard work, though that’s really one of the album’s strengths, the increased usage of synths both in terms of melodic lead parts and more atmospheric backdrops.  The dual guitar attack is once again superb, each part bubbling over with taste and tact.  The vocals continue to show improvement, mostly in the sheer bravado of frontman Axel’s delivery, though there are also so many awesome, Scorpions-esque backing parts laced throughout.  I also enjoy the playfulness and subtle irreverence of the lyrics, plus the now obligatory song sung in Swedish.  The bass and drums play well off one another, and they’ve both got an uncanny knack for holding down the groove while also making sure things stay fresh and interesting.  The production is stellar – it’s a nice clean mix that brings out all the myriad elements.  It’s also worth noting that the cover art is bad ass, looking like a page from a long lost comic book adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine.

 

2017 Touring Pic

 

Okay, let’s revisit a point I was making earlier in relation to Odyssey.  I often don’t like it when an album feels “rushed”, like the band wrote it hastily for some reason that leans more heavily towards being business rather than artistically oriented.  I could potentially make that argument here.  About Time clocks in at 10 songs in 37 minutes, which is quite a downsize from Odyssey’s 12 tracks and 52 minutes, plus we’re not getting a ten minute epic opener.  About Time lacks that special kind of ambition and urgency, it doesn’t overflow with the feeling of unrestrained liberation unleashed by the breaking of prior constraints flows through every note of Odyssey.  Rather, it’s more about a refining process, of solidifying and then expanding on previous ideas until they reach their new heights.  I really enjoy the songs in and off themselves, the hooks and the pop sensibilities incorporated into a heavier retro metal format, that same alchemical formula for success which catapulted Ghost’s career, minus the corny costumes.  Ultimately, this is my favorite Horisont album, largely on the strength of its songwriting, which in my mind frees me from that feeling that they might have been better off if they’d spent some more time on its creation.

Whenever I review a band that’s obviously going for any form of retro-rock shtick, I find myself wanting to go on a tangent about whether or not it’s creatively limiting to strictly mine certain eras of the past for inspiration, if such an approach ultimately cuts an artist off from whole swaths of potential influence.  Horisont have pretty much put that particular internal argument to rest for me, as they’ve proven that any time period is a potential goldmine if one is simply willing to expand the breadth of one’s influences.  Does any given retrophile act still reek a bit of gimmickry, however sincere in its intent?  Sure, though that’s so often the price of entertainment, isn’t it?

Reviewed by Andy “A Beautifully Simple Smart Doorbell By Ding” Beresky