Witchcraft, Graveyard, Burning Saviours and Horisont – the subject of this review. Each of those are successfully selling their own individual recipes to the same flashback-inducing space-cake. The crazy, tie-dye-wearing fans that are mopping it up can be found swinging their flares like it’s the Seventies all over again.
Horisont’s biography describes their sound as being “heavily influenced by 1970s hard rock groups like Black Sabbath, UFO, Thin Lizzy and Scorpions”;
indeed a mouthful, which their wonderfully self-deprecating Facebook
page sums up for us as “New Wave Of Swedish Old Man’s Rock”.
As you delve through Second Assault, their sophomore album,
you’ll certainly pick up plenty of the aforementioned influences as well
as some that they don’t acknowledge. On the magnificent “Crusaders Of
Death” you’ll get a big hit of laid-back blues, echoing the shuffle of
bands like King Crimson and Wishbone Ash, whilst the very first spin of the opener “Time Warrior”, had me jumping to the conclusion that they’d merely reworked Deep Purple’s “Speed King”. Most certainly, the band’s mark is branded deep onto its surface.
With so many different influences running side by side, the
songwriting is a bit of a rocky road. There are clearly some tracks that
hit you harder than others. The hearty groove on “Watch Them Die” grabs
you by the nuts, but the title-track is a little too dull and the
chaotic structure of “Spirit” merely leaves you a bit dazed and
confused. At different moments my nostrils burned with pungent whiffs of
Uriah Heep’s prog, the sheer power that lurks within Nazareth and even some hints of early-Whitesnake thrown in for good measure.
Axel Söderberg’s vocals are naggingly high-pitched and urgent and
take some getting used to. The production keeps them crisp and crunchy
so that they stand shoulder to shoulder with the scuffed, pitching riffs
and tight, wild leads of guitarists Charlie Van Loo and Kristofer
Möller. Sadly, it’s partly this abrasive clarity of sound that ends up
being the album’s Achilles heel. The tracks stab at you like insect
stings, each taking their influence from a different source.
The multi-directional approach, with the guitar tone changing with
each track, means there isn’t a stylistic grab that binds them all
together (take the muffled connective padding that all Graveyard’s
tracks seem to tote, as an example of a single-minded style that
achieves this), so you’ll find it tough to attach yourself to the whole
caboodle. There’s also the fact that the rhythm section is
intermittently relegated in the mix by the howling vocal and strings. I,
for one, certainly found myself preferring the softer, buzzed-out
tracks where the waves of lead abate and the bass and drums pop back to
the surface in the way that those little colored buoys do when the ocean
It’s funny. There is one particular American retro band they remind me of very much and that’s Danava;
another band who suffer from trying to take a little too much from
everyone else to throw into the pot without offering enough of
themselves. I expected to dig Second Assault a lot more than I
did which, despite my misgivings, is by no means a bad album with one or
two sweet, rumbling cruisers and incisive cuts but, sadly, Horisont’s bigger picture is a far blander prospect than the emotion-soaked class displayed by some of their rivals.
Also online @ The NewReview (with samples) = http://thenewreview.net/reviews/horisont-second-assault