Kenziner – The Last Horizon
Reviewed by Christopher Foley
Welcome back Jarno Keskinen, it has been a while! I’m not sure how many remember Kenziner, as they’re one of those acts that kind of floated along the edge of the prog/power metal scene only to become lost in the tidal wave of acts exploding throughout the turn of the millennium. One thing I always felt held back Jarno’s projects were their inter-changeability and overt neo-classical approach, which at the time was dime-a-dozen both in terms of the acts they shared a label with, as well as the swell of similar acts hailing from throughout Scandinavia and Southern Europe. Still, I had a big soft-spot for both Kenziner and Virtuocity, and it’s pretty cool to see that little has changed regarding Jarno’s skill and song-writing craft.
Strangely enough, I’d say this is more along the lines of Virtuocity than anything [Editor’s note: that is a GOOD thing], as the riffing style which dominated Secret Visions is really prominent across The Last Horizon. The whole album has that classic Finnish power metal vibe throughout, and I’d say the biggest changes here would be the vocals and somewhat less reliance on neoclassical licks to drive the songs, with more traditional structures standing in their place. Here the riffs and melodies do most of the talking, saving the pyrotechnics for the solo sections, which recall glory-period Stratovarius.
The addition of former Thaurorod singer Markku Kuikka, who you may also recognize from acts like Book Of Reflections or Status Minor, will be highly beneficial to those who had their issues with Stephen Frederick, although I’d have much rather heard him back in tow (I wonder what happened to that guy). Markku’s style is less identifiable, but applies to a very ear-friendly, power metal manner which I’m sure will award a further degree of accessibility, especially when coupled with the dialling back of neo-classical shredding.
Nonetheless, this is still very much reminiscent of Jarno’s past work. This is particularly true of tracks such as the blazing “Heroes Ride” which, along with the killer “I Am Eternal”, displays everything I’ve ever found exciting about the Kenziner/Virtuocity style. “I Am Eternal” is especially cool with its winding structure, crunchy riffs, and deft lead lines. “Keep The Flame Alive” and “Run For Your Life” show the prior-mentioned focus on riffs and melodies, with their traditional structuring and strong arrangement, definitely doing their part in widening the appeal.
On the whole this is a solid release, and can be seen as another success in the increasing line of re-invigorated power metal acts. While it does little in the way of establishing new ground, The Last Horizon provides a window into arguably the genre’s finest hour, and as such will stand as a must-have release for genre buffs. Not necessarily great, and those who find the appeal in the more symphonic or modern acts can probably give this a skip, yet for any true power metal fan this is a welcome addition to the collection.
3.5 // 5