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Kenziner – The Last Horizon (Reissue)

Kenziner
The Last Horizon (Reissue)
by Ian Yeara at 19 September 2020, 10:35 AM

When I first sat down to listen to this album, I found myself getting bored very quickly. They open the album with slow tempo, fairly generic Progressive Power Metal. Maybe trying to be SYMPHONY X like? There's hints of Neoclassical playing throughout the first three songs, However the music often seems to lapse back into slow march tempo, monotonous, chugging. I wanted to get all the negative elements of this album out of the way first because believe it or not I actually have a lot of good things to say about it.

But first I really want to ask why we're getting a re-issue of a 2014 album? I listened to both copies of this album in preparation for this and the improvements are there but they are extremely minor and in a full review I just hardly even feel like taking that into account when reviewing this. This very much feels like an unnecessary reissuing of a pretty recent album, but I'm not going to hold that against the music.

I don’t usually, but this seems like a good album to analyze song by song. Starting off with "Run For Your Life", it really makes me think of the late Tolkki-era STRATOVARIUS, it’s not particularly excellent, but it’s a short and sweet little romp that makes a nice starting point. "Our Times" continues that sound, only slower. At first it sounds like a pretty solid mid-tempo track, but as it continues I found my interest level dropping. The guitar work is pretty cool, but the mid-tempo riffing gets old for me pretty quick. If you’re someone who likes more traditional style heavy metal, this album might appeal to you more than me.

"Heroes Ride" follows the formula, right off the bat with a burst of energy and Neoclassical shredding this song starts off sounding like it could be the best song on the album. That barely lasts for 30 seconds before we get back to the monotonous chugging riffs. I’m sure it’ll appeal to others, but this kind of song isn’t for me, I like my verses to be energetic and fun, but this just drags and unfortunately the verses drag even the best parts of the song down.

"Devour The World" has some really neat Neoclassical noodling, but then it lapses into the same boring riffs the rest of the album relies on. At least on this song we get some cool phrygian arpeggiating so it sounds like we’re in Egypt.

Then we get to track 5: "End Of An Era", and it's like the band had one hand tied behind their backs through the first half of the album. All of the sudden it's a new band and a more invigorated sound. Now they sound like SYMPHONY X, now we get the complex rhythms and drum patterns and all of the intricacies we expect from Prog Metal. It's rather unfortunate the next song is rather trite comparatively. "Keep The Flame Alive" has a decent hook, but it doesn't really make up for the rest of the song being forgettable. Then the rest of the album is excellent.

This fluctuating quality of songwriting is what has me so conflicted in my ruminations on this album. On the one hand, you have slow and boring Prog Metal that offers nothing new or interesting. Or you have faster paced, intricate Prog that absolutely holds my attention. This is where I would normally tell you what a band should improve upon for their next album, but I already have that album! Without turning this into a review for their "Phoenix" album I will say it's an overall smoother and more consistent effort even if the highs aren't quite as good as the best moments on this album.

Getting back to the music "I Am Eternal" is a really interesting song, it's not amazing, but it does some things I really like. The opening shred is just awesome and I like the contrast of the faster and slower sections. The pacing of the song is excellent and it's just a very solid 7:30 minute prog/power track. "No Turning Back" conversely is straight up Power Metal. Thick guitar riffs draped over synth harpsichord runs and lots of 16th note triplets. I know my US power metal friends would love this song, it's like early STRATOVARIUS meets RIOT. If that sounds like something you like then this album at least has something for you.

This album really feels like the band doesn't know what they want to be yet. This album appeals to like 8 different types of metal across the whole album, but none of those fans really care about the rest of the album that strays from their tastes. I would say "Phoenix" does fix this problem for the most part, in case you're wondering.

They say ‘save the best for last’ and the title track here is really good. There’s a nice variety of tempos so even when they go back to the slow riffs, the song paces itself well so you never quite get bored. They go back to the SYMPHONY X style for the development sections and the bridge and I can’t help but be simultaneously impressed and frustrated. Where was this the quality of songwriting the rest of the album?

It all comes down to inconsistency, from song to song the band can’t decide whether they actually want to play power metal, or just classic heavy metal. It bothers me because I can hear the potential in this, these guys really could be a darker, heavier STRATOVARIUS, and instead they choose to default back to slow prog riffs killing any momentum they build up. Thankfully the second half of this album really helps save it and especially the last three or four tracks.

Songwriting: 7/10
Musicianship: 8/10
Memorability: 6/10
Production: 8/10

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Run For Your Life
2. Our Times
3. Heroes Ride
4. Devour The World
5. End Of An Era
6. Keep The Flame Alive
7. I Am Eternal
8. No Turning Back
9. The Last Horizon
10. Perfect Moment
Lineup:
Jarno Keskinen – Guitars
JJ Hjelt – Bass
Jukka Karinen – Keyboards
Markku Kuikka – Vocals
Make Lievonen – Drums
Record Label: Pure Steel Records
     


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