posted on 4/2012 By:
If Metal Blade / Rise Above's press hounds had their way, the members of Horisont would be walking around with "For Fans of Witchcraft and Graveyard" branded on their foreheads. It's an accurate tag; Second Assault (creative title, gents) is a carbon copy of those acts' bell-bottom worship, making it a superb selection for...well, fans of Witchcraft and Graveyard. Trouble is, those bands already have the market cornered, with the latter band putting together what was arguably 2011's most compelling collection of songs, Hisingen Blues. The question at hand: Is there room in this niche for Horisont?
In a word, no.
Horisont's devotion to the throwback formula is severely detrimental to carving out an identity of their own, and they're further castrated by clunky, directionless songwriting and a lack of a distinctive lead vocalist.
Arson attempts like "Time Warrior" and "On the Run" are hampered by the aftorementioned vocal limitations (cool it on the falsetto, bro), and never offer a payoff after the initial build n' boil. Laid-back cruisers like "Crusaders of Death" and "Spirit" fare much better, but like most of these compositions, they collapse before the guitar solos can swoop in and perform chest compressions.
The title track is the burliest, sunniest thing on the record, and boasts a peppy Valkyrie vibe. However, if you're looking for a peppy Vakyrie vibe, just blast Man of Two Visions and be done with it. Therein lies the album's critical weakness; while Horisont's subtle cowbell in "Road to Cairo" is appropriately kitschy, there's no reason to wander Second Assault's paths for long. Despite pressing all the right buttons, the album is merely a collection of signposts that point back to established destinations.
For some reason, however, metalheads insist on combating market saturation with gluttony. (Note our bafflingly unquenchable thirst for HM-2-pimping OSDM and standard-ass rethrash.) This is a dangerous and shortsighted practice. Overindulgence breeds dilution. This throwback 70's thing is best left in the hands of a select set of skilled practitioners. Horisont is a competent also-ran, but in an arena that demands greatness--Graveyard has set the bar--there's limited tolerance for mediocre mimicry.
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