Big of moustache and tight of trouser, Horistont drink from the bottomless wellspring of inspiration that’s been bubbling up through the layers of time since the birth of the blues – or Blue Oyster Cult at the very least.
Theirs is a sound that harks back to the dawn of the 70s, when a new clutch of heads decided it was time to harsh the 60s hippies’ mellow and paint it black; those years when the twin spirit of hard rock and prog rose to redefine sound.
In their earlier years Horisont looked and sounded like the last guys standing at the world’s wildest and darkest party; these are the tight bro’s who laced the punch, torched the dance-floor and rode off into the night on their roaring hogs in a puff of green smoke. “Put the five soldiers of Horisont in a time machine 50 years ahead of time and we would still rock the silver socks of any future man, woman or robot,” frontman Axel once declared.
This quintet’s rock trip might be retro but their songwriting is timeless; a good melody lives forever and Horisont have songs in abundance. New album Odyssey is exactly as its title suggests: an epic journey into the known. A sonic trip. A mighty voyage of sound. You could even call their fourth full release a concept album – although they themselves prefer “space saga”. Either way it’s a brave band who open their album with a ten minute-long track, yet on the album’s title track Horisont dive straight into the deep end, delivering space-rock with all the dexterity and deftness of the very best prog rock’s finest, such as early Yes or Kansas.
“I think it was Tom, who during a tour, said that it would be fun to write a ten minute song,” says bassist Magnus Delborg.“When that song took shape the idea of a cohesive album was born. Most of the songs are in some way connected to the bigger theme, so – yes – it is a concept album. It concerns a supreme race of mysterious being who experiment with the creation of life and start to populate planets around the universe. And this is the story of one of those planets…”
Formed in 2006, Horisont have spent close to a decade kicking ass, taking names and establishing themselves at the forefront of the Scandinavian retro rock revival (see also Witchcraft, Graveyard etc), injecting their sound with early-Status Quo-styled boogie blues, prog complexities, NWOBHM swagger and fire-spitting choruses set to scorch the eyebrows of the first ten rows. This is music made without irony, unafraid to acknowledge an allegiance to past greats such as Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Cactus, Thin Lizzy, the aforementioned Yes andJudas Priest.
Their first two albums Tva Sidor Av Horisonten(2009) and Second Assault (2012) earned Horisont a special place in the rock underground, while Time Warriors (2013) was a no-holds barred demonstration of classic rock and metal combined with a fearlessly inventive streak, and took them to a wider international audience. And now comes Odyssey, a bold leap into more expansive and ethereal musical territory. It’s the band’s first to feature native Australian and former Church Of Misery guitarist Tom Sutton.
The new line-up change sees a definite gear-shift too. Here Horisont play as if their lives depend upon it: duelling guitars do battle in a endlessly thrilling interplay over a rhythm section that gallops like wild horses across the frozen tundra. And cutting through the middle, Axel Söderberg’s howling heartfelt vocals delivered with a space-age sense of soulfulness.
There are surprises aplenty throughout – witness the melodic Jethro Tull-style breakdown in the middle of ‘Blind Leder Blind’, flamenco/folk flourishes on ‘Flying’, the fist pumping classic metal anthem of ‘Back On The Streets’, the almost Ziggy Stardust-esque ‘Beyond The Sun’ or the elegiac eight minute long album closer ‘Timmarna’, which evokes the awesome beauty of a dying star careering off into darker distant universe. Then there’s the majestic former single ‘Break The Limit’, which was accompanied by a gloriously grainy 1980s VHS-style video, complete with much split screen action. This is expansive, emotive music that’s far more than five hirsute men creating a voluminous ruckus.
Odyssey was recorded in Studio Kust in Gothenburg with producer by Henrik Magnusson. It was, the band explain their most harmonious creative period ever.“No Horisont recording session has ever been this good,” admits Delborg. “We had worked with Henrik on our ‘Break The Limit’ single and knew that he was our guy. All the basics where recorded live in just a couple of days. Then we spent a lot of time on the intricate details.”
The artwork for Odyssey harks back to both classic sci-fi paperbacks and prime prog rock albums of the 70s. “We wanted a slightly disturbed, Asimov-esque science fiction cover that told the story of Odyssey,” says drummer Pontus Jordan. “Tom knew this guy who was really in to old science fiction stuff and he had done the cover for The Order Of Israfel. So we meet the guy and it was the one and only Henrik Jacobsen. And he really nailed it.”
Strap in, sit back and let the Odyssey begin….Since forming in 2006, this Swedish quintet have steadily established themselves as one of Europe’s premier underground rock bands. Their first two albums – 2009’s Tva Sidor Av Horisonten and 2012’s widely acclaimed Second Assault – made it plain that the band have tapped directly into the heart of heaviness and guitar-wielding derring-do. Now, with their latest masterpiece, the vividly realised Time Warriors, Horisont are raising their game, refining and re-defining themselves and leaving the competition spluttering in the dust.
“We started recording new demos right away when Second Assault was released because we wanted to make sure that we had enough material that every song on the next album basically would work as a single, with no fillers,” explains frontman Axel Söderberg. “It’s most definitely our strongest album so far. We did the songs the way that we wanted them to be done. We had more time to get to know the songs, recording them in both English and Swedish to see what would sound best, so there are a few songs with Swedish lyrics on this one.”
From opener Writing On The Wall’s incendiary storm of 70s rock braggadocio and the proto-metal pulse of Diamonds In Orbit through to the insouciant swagger ‘n’ stroll of Didsdans and the hallucinatory Lizzy-gone-psych strut of the closing All Must Come To An End, Time Warriors is a strangely familiar yet undeniably fresh tornado of authentically lysergic hard rock that once again confirms its creators’ sublime grasp of the art of making ageless music with brains, balls and the fierce fizz of five musicians joining forces in perfect harmony. At times harder and heavier than anything Horisont have produced before, at others infused with a bewitching subtlety in conception and execution, this ten-song tour-de-force is a triumph for substance and songs over superficial style.
“I think that we gotten a heavier sound, some of the songs have a more metal feel to them,” states Axel. “You’ve may have heard traces of metal on the other albums as well but this time it’s definitely more apparent. I really like the fact that none of our albums sound alike but it’s always obvious that it’s a Horisont album. It’s different enough to make it interesting and hopefully it will attract attention from people who weren’t into us before, while always remaining familiar to our fans.”
As the album title implies, Horisont – completed by guitarists Charlie Van Loo and Kristofer Möller, bassist Magnus Delborg and drummer Pontus Jordan – are gleefully obliterating the divide between the wonders of the distant past and the unmistakable allure of the here and now. While some of their supposed peers focus too acutely on replicating the sounds of a bygone era, this band consistently display a magic touch, rendering every last note, riff and melody in majestic technicolour and transcending all notions of nostalgia or retro cool in the process.
“Put the 5 soldiers of Horisont in a time machine 50 years ahead of time and we would still rock the silver socks of any future man, woman or robot,” laughs Axel. “We think of a time warrior as someone who digs really good rock’n’roll and fights all the bad music that’s on the air nowadays by coming to a bad ass show, rocking out and buying real music.”
Armed with their best album to date and a collective desire to spread the gospel of real rock’n’roll around the world, Horisont will now be devoting themselves to hitting the road and taking these exceptional new songs to the people. While the modern rock world continues to be plagued by transient trends and shameless bandwagon-chasers, Sweden’s masters of cosmic clangour are the ten-legged antidote, flying the flag for balls-out musical truth. This fantastic voyage has only just begun…
“After the album release we’ll probably start by touring the north,” Axel concludes. “And then I think it’s time for the rest of Europe’s time warriors to get their fair share of the Horisont cake. We’ll keep on doing our thing and hopefully the fans will stick around to see many more Horisont albums in their record collections!”
Dom Lawson, July 2013