By Andrew Bansal
Swedish quintet Horisont completed their first decade as a band in 2016, and are marking the next chapter in their career with their fifth full-length and Century Media debut, ‘About Time’. This is a group highly revered in the European hard rock/heavy metal underground but still very obscure elsewhere, including North America. That’s about to change for the better, as the band’s newest offering is the most awe-inspiring piece of work to have graced the rock/metal genre in a long, long time.
On their past four albums, Horisont doused themselves thoroughly in ’70s hard rock worship, and one listen of the 10-track, 37-minute new LP establishes that they’re continuing along the same path. But what’s clear and remarkable is the journey they’ve taken, expanding their range of influences and inspirations to create the music, and delving deeper into the ocean of classic heavy music with every album, starting with the mostly UFO-Rainbow inspired 2009 debut ‘Två Sidor Av Horisonten’ (which translates to “Two Sides of the Horizon”) to the much more diverse and dynamic fourth full-length ‘Odyssey’ (2015). Plus, the production also got better each time and every album was more “listenable” than the ones past.
‘About Time’ is certainly Horisont’s finest effort till date, stylistically and sonically. They’ve retained the influences they channeled on past albums and added more to the gamut, as this one draws inspiration from Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, Yes, Kansas, Boston, early Scorpions and Judas Priest, and several others that are perhaps not so obvious or straightforward to pinpoint.
That being said, Horisont do not, by any means, come across as ripoff artists. It is more about getting in the mindset rather than lifting specific riffs or musical segments. They embrace their allegiance to the ’70s and themselves wouldn’t deny the similarities and reminiscence to some of the aforementioned hard rock greats, but they have developed their own identity over the past decade, and ‘About Time’ is the most distinctly Horisont album they’ve made. Vocalist Axel Söderberg has come into his own on these new songs. It takes any singer a few years to create his or her own identity, and Söderberg seems to have achieved as much on ‘About Time’. This is the kind of album which if you hear any song from on the PA in a bar or club, and you’ve never heard this band before, you’re compelled to get a hold of the DJ, and you won’t breathe easy until you find out what band and song you just heard. On the other hand, if you already know the band, you instantly recognize the voice.
Besides Söderberg’s expertise and brilliance, you have a quartet of musicians well-versed in their craft, and they’ve honed it to the best of their abilities on ‘About Time’. The cowbell is absent from the entirety of the album, and there seems to be greater focus on making pure vintage hard rock, guitar and vocal driven with a delightful rhythmic gallop, but synth-heavy where it needs to be.
Songs like ‘The Hive’ and ‘Electrical’ capture the listener’s attention and imagination straightaway, and the album then gets into its groove with immensely enjoyable tracks like ‘Without Warning’ and ‘Night Line’. It showcases the vocals in full element on the Swedish song ‘Letare’, offers some slower, more melodic and laid-back variations through the songs ‘Point of Return’ and ‘Hungry Love’, in the latter half serves up its best compositions ‘Boston Gold’ and ‘Dark Sides’, and ends with the proggy epic title track. More than for anything else, this album is a “throwback” to the ’70s because just like on the best albums of that period, very song on ‘About Time’ is an instant classic.
In addition to the musicianship, the production and mix is phenomenal, as the true essence of Horisont can be heard and felt on this one. What is the need of this band when you can just go back and listen to those ’70s classics, you might ask? The answer is simple; because there is contemporary freshness in listening to what Horisont is doing in 2017 as opposed to listening to the same album from the ’70s for the thousandth time, and Horisont, in fact have the upper hand as now, when real heavy music has already evolved through five decades, they have the musical knowledge base bands of the ’70s did not have, and can inspire themselves to create a great album of their own, as they’ve done with ‘About Time.
The title of this album is somewhat of a happy contradiction, because the ten tunes decorating it are actually timeless. Horisont would be vastly successful if they were to transport themselves back in time and present these very tunes to music lovers of the ’70s, but such is their love of this genre that they not only venture to do it in the modern day instead, but in fact do it well enough to find rightful admiration in 2017.
‘About Time’ is an almost flawless slab of gloriously unadulterated heavy music, almost, because its only flaw is that it ends.
If you like what you’ve read, make a donation of any amount and help keep Metal Assault running full time!
Record Label: Century Media
Release Date: February 3rd 2017
01. The Hive
03. Without Warning
05. Night Line
06. Point of Return
07. Boston Gold
08. Hungry Love
09. Dark Sides
10. About Time