Milestones are all-important in the unpredictable world of balls-out rock’n’roll. Starry-eyed rock warriors from the psycho-sonic streets of Sweden, Horisont have just arrived at their ten-year anniversary: an impressive achievement for any band, but one made even more remarkable by how insanely vibrant this band are sounding in 2017. As the New Year dawns, Horisont are ready to unleash About Time, their fifth album and a gold-plated game-changer for the retro rock firmament.
Formed in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 2006, Horisont immediately made their presence felt with a familiar but ingenious sound that took in everything from the gritty bluster of the New Wave Of Heavy Metal to the shimmering squall of prime psychedelic rock, with plenty of subtle surprises thrown in for good measure. The band’s first two albums, Tva Sidor Av Horisonten (2009) and Second Assault (2012) firmly established the Swedes as the modern era’s most instinctively idiosyncratic and inventive purveyors of so-called retro rock. In these men’s hands, however, nostalgia became as much about pushing the past into a new future as it was about saluting the ancient greats.
2013’s Time Warriors album was a euphoric exercise in intuitive evolution, as Horisont’s diverse but focused sound assimilated more vivid colours and a greater sense of dynamics, without ever forgetting that the accelerator demands to be regularly floored. Two years later, Horisont’s fourth studio album Odyssey emerged to widespread acclaim, as these most deft of analogue craftsmen expanded their musical remit yet further, with everything from symphonic pop and folk rock to the glamour days of Bowie and Bolan making a seamless appearance on board the usual rollercoaster of riffs.
Fast-forward to February, 2017, and Horisont are newly signed to Century Media Records and poised to unleash their finest and most dizzyingly diverse collection of songs to date. Nothing short of a future classic in the making, About Time marks the start of the band’s second decade with an audacious flourish: brimming with smart ideas, steeped in old school soul and every bit as vivid and substantial as the classics albums that first inspired Horisont to rock out together, it’s a great leap forward for all concerned.
“We were, and still are all about having fun and making good music!” says frontman Axel. “Sure we dreamt about record deals and tours but having fun has always been more important. You could just say we are five guys enjoying hanging out and jamming together.”
“There are a couple of songs on the new album that probably will raise a few eyebrows, but overall you'll probably recognize the old ‘Horisont sound’,” Axel explains. “We kind of continued with the
thing we did on Odyssey but refined it to perfection. We've always been inspired by the great acts from the 60's, 70's and 80's... Thin Lizzy, Scorpions, Fleetwood Mac, ELO and John O'Banion just to name a few. While making Odyssey we really enjoyed working against a theme. On About Time we selected the theme of time-travel and most of the songs on the album revolve around that theme.”
From the Montrose-tinged rumble of the opening The Hive and the sharp, new wave shades and psych rock pulse of Electrical through to Night Line’s insistent, lysergic, Lizzy-esque boogie and the sumptuous, tripped-out splendor of the closing, epic title track, About Time is an album of beautifully crafted songs executed with maximum imagination and a whole lot of denim-clad love, even touching upon the radio-friendly sheen of Moog-laced AOR on the irresistibly funky Boston Gold. As they proved on their triumphant US tour at the tail-end of 2016, Horisont are on blistering form right now, and their next mission is to take these magical new anthems out to the hard rockin’ masses. Here’s to the next ten years!
“Of course we hope everyone will like the new album. We will be touring most of the first half of next year and we're really looking forward to playing these new killer songs! We will be touring most parts of Sweden to begin with, after that Europe for a couple of weeks. Then we hope to get back to North America for another round. After that we aim for world domination and a base on the moon!”
Formed in 2012, Dead Lord is a true labour of love for vocalist /guitarist and main songwriter Hakim Krim. Having left his previous band to follow his own musical direction, he gathered his friends Olle Hedenstrom (guitars), Tobias Lindkvist (bass) and Adam Lindmark (drums) and together they churned out Dead Lord's '70s-flavoured first album, Goodbye Repentance. Owing their sound to Krim's very healthy Thin Lizzy influence, the record set the wheels in motion for what would become their all-important second outing, Heads Held High, marking the band's major label debut as they made the move from High Roller Records to Century Media.
Dubbed as "10 songs of solid no-bogus, face-melting, twin-guitar, smart-rock action" by the band themselves, Heads Held High is the bold follow-up to Goodbye Repentance, now featuring guitarist-turned-bassist Martin Nordin - a childhood friend of Krim's - replacing Tobias Lindkvist. Once again fully rooted in '70s rock, the album sounds almost impossibly warm for a modern day studio production. It's loud all over with the grit of a veteran garage band, welcoming rather than overpowering thanks to its live-and-raw feel. The only thing that's missing is the old school vinyl LP hiss and pop between tracks.
"Maybe that comes down to the fact we play the stuff the way you're supposed to play it when you record" Krim says of the album's warm analog sound. "It's everyone in the same room in the studio, and we just play live and record it. We actually had a reel-to reel tape machine to record this album. Ola Ersfjord, the guy who recorded it, had to demagnetize the thing, clean it up and get it working because it was just standing in a corner collecting dust. It feels really good knowing people can hear this is something different. I kind of felt like a douchebag walking into the studio and saying 'We need to use that reel-to-reel machine...' but it was worth it. The album sounds great."
Adding to Dead Lord's appeal is Krim's unique voice. Rich in tone, his vocals on Heads Held High are devoid of studio tricks meant to enhance his performance. He stands out amongst his peers based on natural talent, and the songs benefit from the fact he doesn't have a 'typical' polished rock singer voice. Krim's vocals have quickly become Dead Lord's trademark.
"If you know what I sound like you definitely recognize when it's me singing a song," Krim says. "If I could I'd try to sound like Ronnie James Dio, but there's no way I can sing like that. I just use what I was born with."
Heads Held High is unashamedly reminiscent of Thin Lizzy, and Krim makes no apologies for it. The record is also reminiscent of classic-to-legendary hook-laden material from legends Uriah Heep, Bad Company and Led Zeppelin.
Krim credits his bandmates playing a bigger role in arranging the songs for the evolution in Dead Lord's overall sound.
"Whether I like it or not, I think Thin Lizzy influenced my guitar playing," says Krim. "When I first started playing guitar I learned a lot of their songs, and doing that has a way of tickling your 'That's nice!' nerve when you start writing songs. I think the first album sounds more Thin Lizzy-ish than this one. For the new album everyone in the band was involved in arranging the songs and there was a lot of discussion about how we wanted things to sound, so the songs are more us than just me. I'm not that anxious about our music anymore. When I write a song now I don't feel like a I have to think twice, wondering if it sounds like someone else or if it sounds like us."