Awakening The World
Released: 2001, Music For Nations / KOCH Records
Reviewer: Michael De Los Muertos
Whoever is in charge of signing new bands at Music For Nations – a small European-based label – has been having quite a run of success. I can tell 30 seconds into “Heart of Storm,” the first song on AWAKENING THE WORLD (except for the intro), that whoever decided to sign Lost Horizon was the same person who signed Dispatched last year. Not that these two bands sound similar – they don’t – but the sheer, awesome melodic power of Lost Horizon strikes me with the same ferocity with which Dispatched mercilessly attacked me last year. This band is completely amazing, and the rumors you may have heard are true – AWAKENING THE WORLD may well be the post powerful debut album you’ll hear in 2001!
It’s fitting that Lost Horizon hail from the capital of the melodic metal world, that being Gothenburg, Sweden, and it’s also fitting that their band photos look like they were taken on the set of the movie “Braveheart.” Decked out in leather, chains, war paint and such, these guys mount a tremendous juggernaut of pure power metal. “Heart of Storm” is an excellent introduction to the band, offering the galloping guitar lines, shouting choruses, clean vocals and inspirational lyrics that lift the heart of any power metal fan. While this stuff is clearly built for those of us with lots of Gamma Ray, Primal Fear and HammerFall in our CD cases, those of you who are already sneering at this review may be pleased to learn that Lost Horizon is not as “happy” sounding as some of the much-maligned epic bands like Rhapsody. Indeed, there’s quite a formidable heaviness here. “World Through my Fateless Eyes” is nothing short of blistering. The pace slows down a bit on “Perfect Warrior,” with some mid-tempo stuff there, but picks right back up again. Lost Horizon’s vocalist (credited only as “Ethereal Manganimus”) has a terrific voice and a clean tone, but he’s not quite as high-pitched as Sammet, nor as ragged as Kürsch. I sense a style in the guitar and songwriting that may be brought out in future albums – heavy, up-front guitars backed by fairly subtle synth lines that tend to have an outer-spacey type sound, contrasted with the more “candyland” type of sound of a band like Children of Bodom. Melodies, such as on great songs like “Denial of Fate,” suggest HammerFall, but (again, good news for those uncomfortable with power metal) without nearly as much of the “cheese factor.” Lost Horizon are subtle where they need to be, yet over the top in other respects.
While this album is clearly one of the best I’ve heard this year, it’s not perfect. The pace of the album is not quite as consistent as it probably should be – one of the reasons I loved Dispatched’s MOTHERWAR is because its furious onslaught never flagged in the slightest. Lost Horizon has a few too many pauses and mid-tempos too evenly spaced, but the overall effect is still extremely powerful. Also, this album is top-heavy, with the best, fastest and heaviest songs placed early on. I think an epic metal album should be like an epic action movie – save the really good stuff for the finale! The cover art, while ingenious, is somewhat chaotic. Methinks the band, or someone at MFN, wanted to avoid putting any swords or dragons on the cover, but what they did get isn’t as powerful as it should be.
Nonetheless, I can’t deny that Lost Horizon kicked my ass, and what a glorious ass-kicking it was. I can’t wait for their second album! Also, I’m certain these guys are something pretty awesome in concert. With the strength and fury with which AWAKENING THE WORLD is being promoted (finally! MFN starts getting the word out about its great bands!), I may in fact get the chance to see them. Wacken 2002, perhaps? Hmm…