Horisont go Prog! OK, it’s not a sonic U-Turn or anything, just a natural progression (pun intended) of their existing style, but here on “Odyssey”, Prog Rock is definitely in evidence from the start in it’s keyboard sprinkled, dual guitar-throwing, time-signature-defying 10 minute plus opening title track. And it’s rather bloody good too…
So let’s deal with this opening track first shall we? Horisont have always had a little 70’s Prog to their sound, with their high vocal delivery and retro vibe, but on this opening track they’ve just chosen to push that side of them a little further forward…and mix it with a good dose of Space Rock too! There is more than a passing nod towards Blue Oyster Cult circa “Tyranny and Mutation” or “Secret Treaties”, mixed with some prime Yes, a bit of Elo, a little Hawkwind and a touch of Magnum’s debut “Kingdom Of Madness” too in it’s overall sound. It twists and turns within the bounds of it’s quirky keyboard refrain, stops and starts, speeds and slows, and is a thoroughly intriguing, interesting and enjoyable start to Horisont’s 4th studio journey.
In classic tabloid trash manor though, that opening statement to my review is a bit of an attention grabber. It should have read something like “Horisont (4) in Prog Rock Shock!” I guess, as it’s only really that opening title track that leans as much as it does towards Prog, and even then in a very Horisont way! The addition of former Church Of Misery guitarist Tom Sutton has certainly filled out their sound and added an extra dimension, but as the album progresses, it becomes more apparent that Horisont’s trademark retro/psych brand of 70’s styled hard rock is very much still in evidence.
The 70’s BOC leanings continue (as they always have), and prog isn’t forsaken completely, but Horisont are a bit more like their old selves as things go on…just expanded a little. They still pen a few good NHOBHM riff driven numbers like ‘Red Light’ and it’s slightlier heavier companion ‘Bad News’ with more great twin guitar duelling, seeming to capture nicely parts of Saracen, Praying Mantis, Vardis, Tygers Of Pan Tang and others. There’s a bit of boogie rock in tracks like ‘Blind Leder Blind’ and a desire to throw in a few catchy choruses in ‘Break The Limit’ and ‘Back On The Streets’ (for example), which certainly don’t disappoint. But the band are also not afraid to just go with the flow like on the excellent acoustic-intro’d, Zorro-meets-Fistful-Of-Dollars, ‘Flying’, which nudges back towards Prog at times, but less self indulgent and reminds me of Kansas at their best with that recurring hint of BOC thrown in again for good measure. There really is some great lead guitar throughout “Odyssey” – The Gorham/Robertson twin-style lead riffing, particularly on the fabulously groovy ‘Light My Way’, works particularly well…and hark, is that a bit of cowbell a-la Rainbow’s version of ‘Still I’m Sad’ that I hear? Too bloody right! Another plus point from me right there!
I haven’t even mentioned the wonderfully kitch 60’s style psych Space travel themed lyrical concept and artwork…and I haven’t mentioned the vocals much at all. I’ve always really liked Axel Söderberg’s high register, but back on the first two albums the vocals seemed particularly high, and from some reviews I’ve read, put a few people off for some reason. But here on album number four they seem to fit perfectly. They are maybe a touch more restrained, possibly better mixed than in the early days, or maybe Horisont have really found their natural sound – and it works really, really well. This is definitely their best, most interesting, most accomplished work to date. Everything works so well together – the songs, the musicians, the vocals – everything. A great album with hidden depths that unveil themselves more with every listen, meaning the album just gets better and better every time.
(8.5/10 Andy Barker)