Horisont are a band I have had the pleasure of seeing grow and develop into a diverse and unique act over the last 10 years. I actually purchased their debut at the same time I got fellow retro Swedish band Graveyard’s debut and since then each band has trodden their own retro/psyche/hard rock path, releasing a similar amount of albums in a similar amount of time. Graveyard have their own distinct sound, as do Horisont. I mention this after seeing many people comparing the two bands in the past and still doing so, but modern Horisont is an increasingly different beast and “Sudden Death” is no exception – Horisont really like to mix things up and do the unexpected.
WARNING – The following review includes occasional references to some very dodgy 70’s bands indeed, people of a nervous disposition should stop reading immediately.
Horisont are pushing their sound even further! I’ve mentioned 70’s symphonic rockers Electric Light Orchestra before in a Horisont review, and Horisont have decided to go the full ELO on their album opener ‘Revolution’, which rather caught me off guard A piano intro that Queen would be proud of on following track ‘Free Riding’, gradually gives way to the band’s Blue Oyster Cult leanings and a little of their old selves shines through and things start to settle down a little once more…the abundance of space rock synths is also a nice nod back to how 2015’s “Odyssey” kicked off. The next track continues the BOC tendencies, blending them with a bit of April Wine, making the track the heaviest on the album so far and showcasing a nice hefty slice of lead guitar-work – this is more the Horisont I’m used to.
But no-one pegs Horisont and although the Lizzy-esque twin guitar is resplendent in ‘Into The Night’, there’s some Toto style plinky piano thrown in and even a bit of saxophone at the start, as well as a strange Supertramp-ish mid-section. Yep, Horisont are really mixing it up this time around. The ELO style returns on the next track…and they seem to have brought April Wine back with them for company, who hang around to influence next track ‘Runaway’. It starts to become increasingly evident that this is an album that is going to take a bit of getting used to. The hard/blues/psyche rock that earlier Horisont were known for has been nudged further aside this time around, and replaced with…well, basically every type of 70’s rock you could imagine. There’s a 70’s Eurovision-tinged native language power-ballad up next, some Allman brothers style American country rock, a bit of space/new wave/prog rock, a slab of AOR/Arena Rock and the whole thing is rounded off with an 8 minute instrumental of intricate, keyboard-soaked 70’s prog (like a track called ‘Archaeopterix In Flight’ was going to be anything else!).
The feeling by the end of the album is that however many similarities that were once drawn between Graveyard and Horisont in the early days, Horisont have certainly gone their own way, which is no bad thing! OK, I prefer the more hard rock side to the band and I have an aversion to electric piano, so the more the band explore the cheesier side of the 70’s, the more it’s always going to jar with me personally…it’s just Horisont do the whole damn thing with such belief, honesty and authenticity that it’s hard not to find plenty to enjoy on this quirky, unique album.
(7/10 Andy Barker)