Lost Horizon – Awakening The World
Ahh, back in the glory days of college, back when Napster and Hotline delivered music fresh through that series of tubes right to my computer box thingy. More often than not, I’d wind up with some bootleg concert that sounded like melodic static or some random “ambient” black metal that some kid recorded in his boombox in the bathroom of his high school or a whole crapload of classic rock I already had (yeah, I really want your 128kbps rip of Rocks I already have at 320…). However, there were occasions where I’d get hooked up with some downright killer material that I had never heard before (I went to college in northern Maine…metal was scarce!). And to any potential haters, yes, I bought legit copies of everything good…Children Of Bodom, Gamma Ray, Stratovarius, and this gem by Lost Horizon.
Obviously, I totally missed out on what makes the album so incredibly over-the-top when I first heard it, and that is the “thank you” section of the liner notes. Never before in my life had I actually bothered to look at the random crap most musicians were plugging in the booklet (“I’d like to thank my wife, my kids, and the guys who cut me nice deals on gear!” Yup, I really care about that stuff.). No, not these guys. The liner notes are so laughably pretentious, from 5 pages of “thank yous” to the 2 pages of lyrics and 1 page of credits to the fact that the entire band has to explain that yes, Preternatural Transmogrifyer is a stage name (or rather that Christian Nyquist is his “Earthshape”) and that mortals need to be told that he doesn’t play drums, or he’s the snotty “percussionist” type. No, he’s tasked with keeping the universe’s pulse and the taming of chaos. This is the stuff that would make Joey DeMaio’s head explode with jealousy since he didn’t think of something so ego-driven first.
“Ok, Kylie, enough with the damn booklet! How’s the music?!” Oh yeah, I almost forgot about that. This is your quintessential “true” power metal album. It’s not fast enough to be compared with Gamma Ray or Helloween or their Finnish counterparts, not is it orchestrated like Blind Guardian or Rhapsody. Nah, this is your pure ass-kicking melodic metal that bands like HammerFall get worshipped for watering down (side note: Joacim Cans was the lead singer of the band back when they were called Highlander). Oh sure, it’s up-tempo, but it’s most definitely not speed metal.
The album opens and closes with atmospheric pieces (“The Song Of Air” is, too). “Heart Of Storm” kicks off the album with a great guitar (sorry, “The Entire String Romanticism”) riff from Transcendental Protagonist (Wojtek Lisicki for you mortals). Ethereal Magnanimus (Daniel Heiman) can seriously wail, too; he sounds very similar to what would happen if you put Harry Conklin of Jag Panzer and Eric Adams of Manowar into one of those teleporters from The Fly and created the ultimate midrange “conversational” vocalist that can instill you with the power of Greyskull with his vocals and and then transform your soul into a transdimensional vessel to soar into the unknown planes of existence with his screams (and totally owns Joacim “Have I Hit Puberty Yet?” Cans). Wait, where was I?
Oh yeah, awesome, catchy-as-hell power metal! It’s possible to listen to this album four or five times to focus entirely on one instrument and get something new out of it each time; there’s that much going on, and yet, it’s not complete cacophony that you’d expect from a band trying to do this much with each song.
“Sworn In The Metal Wind” is another instant classic with more great riffs, and some seriously great, unintentionally ludicrous lyrics in the choruses (my favorite being “Now! Is really the time to wake up you old jade/Such as Phoenix spreads his firewings/I will help you remember by kicking your ass/And the will shall return!”). Seriously Joey, this is what Manowar needs to be going for…subtlety! “World Through My Fateless Eyes” and “Perfect Warrior” are more killer mid-tempo power metal songs that will make you want to pick up that broadsword and slay the dragon outside your castle…wait…that wasn’t a dragon? Huh. My bad.
“Denial Of Fate” is my personal favorite here, managing to be Helloween-level catchy and Manowar-level badass with another great chorus and more killer guitar riffs. “Welcome Back” is the only song that can be considered weak, lacking a bit of the emotion and the sense urgency the rest of the album has an abundance of. “The Kingdom Of My Will” is your typical power metal epic, soaring, bombastic, and all in all a great song. Nothing totally special, but it’s a nine minute song that feels like it’s only 5; there are no wasted ideas for the sake of making the song a few seconds longer.
So yeah, this is killer power metal, and it’s a shame that the band hasn’t put out anything since 2003 even though they’re still together, minus Daniel Heiman and guitarist-from-the-next-album Fredrik Olsson. Either they want the second coming of Ronnie James Dio on vocals or they’re royals pains in the ass to deal with (or, quite possibly, both), but it would be nice to finally see a followup to 2003’s A Flame To The Ground Beneath. So yeah, I highly recommend this album, especially to any hardened HammerFall fan (because this blows away everything they’ve done, even the awesome Glory To The Brave and Crimson Thunder).
YEAH THIS ONE IS REAL!
Kylie’s rating: 4.75 out of 5.