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 and Judas 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: dueling guitars do battle in an 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…