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When Green Carnation, the progressive Norwegian sextet that gave birth to avant-Black pioneers In The Woods, split for the second time in 2007, no-one gave it a cat in hell’s chance of reformation. Yet the green (ahem) shots of recovery spawned with 2018’s live album Last Day of Darkness (Prophecy Productions), and here we are with the band’s sixth album Leaves of Yesteryear (Season of Mist), in what is the 30th anniversary of its formation.Continue reading
2019 may only be two weeks old, but as shown by our Underground Albums Roundup, the great and the not-so-good of our world are determined to start the year with a bang. Or at the very least, to bury us in a deluge of albums. Seeing as the mean and the nasty had been given a platform, we thought it only fair to shine the light on some of January’s releases beholden of a more melodic or traditional Metal bent to their finery…
Edinburgh Occult quartet Juniper Grave is no stranger to the stage, having opened for the likes of Witchsorrow, Slough Feg and the spellbinding Dystopian Future Movies during their short existence. Debut album Of Hellions & Harridans (Wasted State Records) shows a style more in tune with the likes of Alunah, a hugely retrospective feel coating the elements of the band’s sound.Continue reading
There aren’t many bands who mark forty plus years with an extensive UK tour promoting a brand new album as opposed to a full-on nostalgia show; but then again Magnum hasn’t followed the trend of many of their peers since their return from hiatus in the early 2000’s. As mentioned by our own Sir Tovey in his Lost on The Road To Eternity(Steamhammer) review, Magnum missed the nostalgia wave of recent times and thus, perhaps as a result, haven’t exactly been media darlings or more a recognisable name more on the periphery. This was certainly the case for me until finally discovering them with the aforementioned Lost …, discovering with it a rich and highly consistent catalogue; a new album more than capable of standing its own with even the band’s more highly regarded efforts.Continue reading
The release of Magnum’s twentieth studio album, Lost On The Road To Eternity (SPV/Steamhammer) is no mean feat, considering twenty-five years ago, the band were releasing the aptly named and wholly underwhelming Sleepwalking (Music For Nations) while struggling to find a foothold in a musical environment that had no room for them. Continue reading
You can’t call yourself a proper prog band until you’ve attempted those two most indulgent of propositions… the ten minute long epic and the concept album. For their fourth album, Swedish retro rockers Horisonthaven’t just attempted both, they’re brazenly flaunting it, kicking the Rise Above released album off with ten minute prog opera and title track ‘Odyssey’.
“The whole thing started when we were joking around saying “Let’s do a 10 minute song”,” laughs vocalist and keys man Axel Söderberg. “We really did think of it as a joke at first. But then we came round to it saying “You know, we should really do that, it’d be really cool”. So we proceeded from there, building the other songs around the same subject and it came together. It’s one of those songs where a 10 minute song doesn’t feel like a 10 minute song, so, then it’s a good 10 minute song!!”
And what a subject it is, too. Raiding such luminiferous source materials as an entire book-shelf full of sci-fi paperbacks, and a life-time worth of Blakes 7 and Buck Rogers ideals, via a touch of War of the Worlds, the story of Odyssey“concerns a supreme race of mysterious beings” confirms bassist Magnus Delborg. Of course it does… but just what do we encounter these beings doing? “(they) experiment with the creation of life and start to populate planets around the universe. This is the story of one of those planets…”
“The main theme of the album is Magnus our bass players story,” affirms Söderberg before explaining how the title track served to feed the rest of the album. “When we started with this 10 minute song, that started with me buying a synthesizer and trying out the main riff and finding something that the song was going to evolve from.”
The main keyboard lick reminds me of Magnum (a band I never thought I’d reference when talking a new release in 2015). “Ha, yes, I like them. Well, the first album only” grins the voice of Horisont, before diverging more about his additional input to the album; synthesizers… “I’ve always played the keyboards and we never got around to using them live before. So now I’ve bought myself 3 proper keyboards, so it’s going to be nice trying it out live. I can’t drink as much, anymore, though…” he muses on his new live responsibilities with just a pang of regret in his voice.
The introduction of synthesizers has rounded out the Horisont sound, like the pair of Doc Martens that have finally stopped giving you blisters and now fit like a foot-glove. “I’m not really sure why it works better now”, is the shrugged reply. “It’s like, this album is more a mix of what we actually listen to. I listen to lots of Kansas. Not the “proper” prog groups like Yes or that, but more AOR prog-ish stuff is really what I like. So that shows on this album more than the others. We’re into UFO and Black Sabbath as well, obviously, but this one really reflects what we listen to.”
“We probably would have liked to have played this stuff before, but I don’t think we had the skills back then!”
It’s been a natural evolution, and a return to the music that is in their hearts. “We’ve played this kind of music for ten years now and genres and new kinds of music they come and go, but the classic rock sound is something that will always come back. Everyone that listens to rock in general always goes back to the classic bands.”
The amiable frontman gets sheepish about his love of the retro… “I started out singing in a Misfits and Danzig covers band! That was what pulled me into playing music, made me realize I could play music and it sounded OK! Then I proceeded from there, so I guess that’s my musical background – punk and hard rock.
“I’m actually really not that good at listening to new bands, because there’s no other bands like the classic bands. I do try to check out newer bands, but it’s been a long time since I bought a new record, put it that way.”
Not content with breaking new ground with Odyssey, the upcoming tour will also see the band pushing their horizon(t)s (#SorryNotSorry). “Yes, I just came back from practicing vocal harmonies… and we’ve got a lot of work, as that’s something we’ve never done before! We’re rehearsing hard for the tour and realizing how much work we have to do in learning the songs!”
But it seems like it is hard work that’s paying off. There seems to be a genuine buzz and interest in Odyssey and the bands fourth, most organic and natural album, appears to be the one set to raise their profile all across the board.
“I can feel it; it all feels promising. Yes, it’s looking good! We had more time writing and recording this album than before. All the other albums were a bit stressful, this one, though, just feels really good.”
Odyssey will be released on Friday 18th September via Rise Above Records
WORDS BY STEVE TOVEY
British melodic rockers Magnum are releasing a new live album titled Escape From The Shadow Garden – Live 2014, recorded on the European tour in the spring of 2014, and out in Scandanavia on May 6, 2015, in Germany on May 8, 2015, in Europe on May 11, 2015, and in the USA on May 12, 2015 via SPV/Steamhammer.
Super Jewel Case
1. Live ’til You Die
2. Black Skies
3. Freedom Day
4. Dance of the Black Tattoo
5. Blood Red Laughter
6. Unwritten Sacrifice
7. How Far Jerusalem
8. Les Morts Dansant
9. Falling For the Big Plan
10. All England’s Eyes
12. Kingdom of Madness
1. Live ’til You Die
2. Black Skies
3. Freedom Day
1. Dance of the Black Tattoo
2. Blood Red Laughter
3. Unwritten Sacrifice
1. How Far Jerusalem
2. Les Morts Dansant
3. Falling For the Big Plan
1. All England’s Eyes
3. Kingdom of Madness
Jul 18: Väsby Rock Festival – Väsby (SE)
Jul 31: Skogsröjet Festival – Rejmyre (SE)
Aug 01: Rock Of Ages Festival – Seebronn (DE)