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Horrizon - World of Pain Award winner

World of Pain
by Kira Schlechter at 09 December 2019, 4:39 AM

An album whose main songwriter has said is an exploration of pain, both emotional and physical, could be a maudlin exercise. But in the hands of Martin Gerloff, of the German melodic death metal band HORRIZON, it becomes thoughtful, moving, and cathartic.  Founded in 2005, the band has two previous two albums under their belt, “Time for Revenge” (2011) and “Dwelling Within” (2015), and has gone through a number of personnel changes. As a result, Martin handled songwriting here on their latest effort, “World of Pain.”

From the opener, “Once in a While,” it’s apparent piano will play a pivotal role throughout – it’s lovely and haunting and cuts delicately across the sharp, punchy, concise riffing and soloing of guitarists Peter and Michael. The chorus is a plea for relief from that pain, or the agony of finding that relief only occasionally. “Sentenced to Death” features more of that piano, this time just faintly, but it really adds to the overall sound. They are adept at changing tempos, switching it up with confidence and not losing anything as they go.

“Where Am I?” is decidedly slower, and Martin sings rather than roars, doing a very nice job of it. He switches back in the chorus, and that follows the sentiment of the lyrics, which is sadness and fear and anger all at once, alternating back and forth. The acoustic guitar and strings and drifts of piano don’t soften anything, instead serving to heighten the changing mood of the lyrics. When HORRIZON is fast, like in the title track and throughout, they are super fast, but it’s clean as hell and dynamically strong. There’s what sounds like a female voice in the pre-chorus, and it’s judicious and brief, and the change of tempo in the bridge is a welcome break. There’s a note of hope and optimism, Martin singing, ”I know there will be sunshine after the rain/Now let me escape from this world of pain.”

“Haunted by the Past” uses keyboard textures and lighter and darker tones of guitar harmony to great advantage, especially in the section before the first chorus. Lyrically, this may be written from the perspective of looking back at one’s life and having regrets – “my heart is turning into dust,” like one has lost the ability to feel. “Ancient Wisdom” is another slower one and again has Martin showing off his very capable singing. At times, just for argument’s sake, I’d almost like to see them stick with that slower groove throughout, just to see what would happen. Martin has a knack for powerful imagery in this track, speaking of “the precious rose with poisoned thorns” and “a water drop turning into the sea.”

“Dying God” is relentless and raging, railing against misplaced faith and the uselessness and obsolescence of religion. With the album’s theme in mind, this would be where someone would lose faith, showing the anger at being told throughout your life that faith would help you when it can’t at all. The band plays really well with tempos on “Lost,” and the keyboards add tons of dimension, almost Middle Eastern “Kashmir”-type sounds at times, very techno at others, almost classical at still others. Martin makes a really pointed commentary on aging here when he sings, “trying to find a way to turn back time/to get rid of these thoughts of physical decline.”

“Why?” has Martin singing again, this a musing on loss (“too young to die”), and he toys with almost a spoken-word part on this track, which shows off more of his vocal versatility. “Reborn,” featuring a guitar turn by Andy Gillion of MORS PRINCIPIUM EST, starts at hyperspeed before moving into a swinging groove that’s most appealing, Robert’s drumming plays a key role in helping the band negotiate tempos so well – he’s just seamless in his transitions.

The closer, “Endless Rain,” features more of those potent fast-to-slow segues. The legato of the vocals and guitars in the chorus versus the staccato of the drumming is a great contrast and the strings that end it are perfect, further proof of the respect the European MDM bands have for classical music and their fearlessness to use classical elements in a heavy context. HORRIZON is a band coming into its own in an ever-evolving subgenre.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 9
Production: 10

4 Star Rating

1. Once in a While
2. Sentenced to Death
3. Where Am I?
4. World of Pain
5. Haunted by the Past
6. Ancient Wisdom
7. Dying God
8. Lost
9. Why?
10. Reborn
11. Endless Rain
Martin Gerloff - Vocals
Peter Gedert - Guitar
Michael Bach - Guitar
Franz Riemann - Bass
Robert Witzel - Drums
Record Label: Massacre Records


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