REVIEW: Horizon Ignited – Towards the Dying Lands

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It is finally time to enjoy the summer festivals and bask in the glory of live music, not just in Finland but throughout Europe as well. However, the music industry keeps going, as bands have been releasing fresh material during this time. So you have the option to switch between live performances and studio work. One such band that has gifted us with new music is Finnish melodic death metal act HORIZON IGNITED, whose sophomore album, “Towards the Dying Lands,” was released on July 1, 2022, via Nuclear Blast Records.

Melodic death metal, as per its name, combines aggression with an underlying melody and HORIZON IGNITED walk that fine line with precision and power in big part thanks to the vocal dexterity of singer Okka Solanterä. His ability to easily switch between different styles of singing adds so many nuances and textures to the music, which in turn makes the album feel bigger and more dynamic. Couple his delivery with melodic guitar lines, intense drumming, and keyboards, and you have the necessary tools to create some memorable melodeath songs. Case-in-point is the single and opening track, “Beyond Your Reach,” where Solanterä shows off his skills, accompanied by melodious riffs, chunky guitar work, and pounding drums overlaid on a strong rhythmic backbone – all the hallmarks of what the genre (and the album as a whole) has to offer.

Up next, the trio of “Servant,” “Towards the Dying Lands,” and “End of the Line” are more brutal servings, as the melodic aspect is less present and the heavy element is brought into the forefront. The trade-off between clean and harsh vocals ebbs and flows, thus giving the songs a sense of movement while the instrumental section provides steady rhythms for this vocal dynamic to develop and soar. It’s worth mentioning that Markus Vanhala (OMNIUM GATHERUM, INSOMNIUM) delivers a guest lead solo on the title track, injecting melody and energy to the fold. If so far things seem pretty standard and follow the beaten path of melodic death metal, the rest of the album has some interesting surprises in store as it progresses, making the almost 40 minutes of runtime feel like not enough.

Since their brand of melodeath takes more inspiration from the Swedish metal scene (think IN FLAMES or even DARK TRANQUILITY), “Towards the Dying Lands” offers some really catchy and melodic moments that balance out the album and make the listening experience all the more enjoyable. As such, “Guiding Light” has a melodic core coming from the guitar work while the chorus has a metalcore vibe. However, it is “Reveries” that capitalizes on the clean/harsh vocal approach and melodic mastery the most, opening on ominous keys before launching into a blast of guitars and drums, paired with some backing keys. Once more, Solanterä shows what he is capable of, while the rest of the band keep a neat balance of melody, rhythm, and power.

Aching Wings” is the album’s ballad and therefore offers an emotional delivery and more keys from Miska Ek, while the guitars and drums are toned down to be more focused on the vocals and less on the instrumentals. With “Death Has Left Her Side” and especially “Fall Apart” being more intentional in their usage of various vocal styling, gritty guitars, and keys, it seems like the band have found their stride. Closing track “Eventide of Abysmal Grief” brings everything together into a final display of all the trademark elements that give HORIZON IGNITED its sonic identity and make them stand apart from the rest of the Finnish melodeath bands.

All-in-all, your enjoyment of this album (and what this band) has to offer depends greatly on how brutal or melodic you like your melodic death metal to sound. HORIZON IGNITED are playing it safe and don’t really push the sound, but rather mess around with the tried-and-tested formula while edging on the melodic side of things. However, it’s not a case of overusing some elements more than others, but about the overall delivery of the music, and HORIZON IGNITED have proven that they are skilled enough to craft an album that is consistent, reasonably dynamic, and easily enjoyable.

Written by Andrea Crow

Tracklist

  • Beyond Your Reach
  • Servant
  • Towards the Dying Lands
  • End of the Line
  • Guiding Light
  • Reveries
  • Aching Wings
  • Death Has Left Her Side
  • Fall Apart
  • Eventide of Abysmal Grief 

Lineup

  • Okka Solanterä – Vocals
  • Johannes Mäkinen – Guitar
  • Villi Vottonen – Guitar
  • Miska Ek – Keyboards
  • Jukka Haarala – Bass
  • Jiri Vanhatalo – Drums

Label

Nuclear Blast Records

Links

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