Review: Horisont - Second Assault

Big, messy Swedish rock with a '70s kiss.
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horisont - second assaultDrenched in influences from the late 60s and early 70s, Sweden’s Horisont is ready to crank their maverick brand of fire-breathing whiskey rock into your ears. While they have grasped a very American style to go with their metal chops, the band also integrates the nitty-gritties from characteristic countrymen like Witchcraft and Graveyard.

Second Assault, the follow-up to 2010’s Två Sidor Av Horisonten, is a sweltering release that lays down a good buzz for these guys and showcases some damn fine songs. It helps that the band is enormously accomplished, showcasing some marvellous guitar back-and-forth and thrashing away with a killer rhythm section.

The surname-lacking ensemble features vocalist Axel, guitarists Charles and Kristofer, bassist Magnus, and drummer Pontus. These Gothenburg gentlemen may like to leave a bit of mystery behind, but there’s nothing but smoke, booze and the truth soaking this Second Assault.

“Time Warrior” drops in with a fuzzed-up spasm and announces Axel’s impressive range. He is an urgent, imposing vocalist capable of blasting the lights out with the odd high note. Sometimes he seems to get lost in the mix, but for the most part Axel is one hell of a frontman.

His range gets a workout on the roadhouse grind of “On the Run,” a classic desert-kissed track if there ever was one. At times, Axel sounds helpless (“You never told me a lie, just didn’t tell me the truth”) over the band’s dependable presence. Charles and Kristofer haul ass with a twin guitar solo that will peel the paint off your Harley.

Through all the influences and joyful rock truisms, Horisont is still their own band. They have their own character and deliver some dazzling songcraft, as shown on the gorgeous “Watch Them Die” and the spacious, jam-heavy “Thunderflight.”

From the Spanish touches found on “Things I’ve Seen” to the Ennio Morricone-influenced burn of “Hard Bargain,” Horisont’s Second Assault is a heady, adamant, poised rock record. It is a blast from the past, but it is also a look to the future and a reminder of the fact that there are some mighty fine rock bands still kicking ass and taking names.