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New Horizon - Gate of the Gods Award winner

New Horizon
Gate of the Gods
by Chris Hicklin at 16 May 2022, 3:58 PM

NEW HORIZON is a Power Metal project from Jona Tee and Erik Grönwall, both of whom either were or currently are members of the Swedish Hard Rock band H.E.A.T., although don’t be fooled, the two projects sound nothing like each other. Along for the ride are a plethora of guest stars including Robban Bäck of MUSTASCH and DRAGONFORCE founder Sam Totman.

The album begins with some ominous sounding effects, and then a very Eighties synth kicks in. I am not sure if this is supposed to sound fantasy-esque, but it sounds like the soundtrack to an 80s platform game, and just at the moment you expect it will get heavy it doesn't get heavy at all and instead doubles down on the synth thing sounding a bit like VANGELIS. None of that is intended as criticism though, I thought it sounded cool.

Track two is where the serious business begins, and it explodes with a very complex instrumental introduction, heavy fast riffing guitars and thunderous bass and drums. I'm thinking this is either going to have a strong rock voice chime in and set things on fire, or some guy is going to start squealing through his nose at me and ruin everything. Fortunately, it's the former as Erik Grönwall has a superb voice, effortless highs and gravelly lows, all delivered with power, melody and precision. He sings the verses with a melodic gusto and the choruses are left to a gang vocal style. Now if that name is sticking out you particularly right now, it may be because he was recently announced as the new pipes of SKID ROW, so that should give you some idea just how talented a singer he is to be able to go from sleazy Hard Rock to epic Power Metal. Just a note on this chorus though, I hate to break it to everybody, but this tune is directly lifted almost note-for-note from “What A Feeling” from the movie Flashdance. If you don’t believe me look it up, I’m not even kidding.

Next up is “Stronger Than Steel” a track that was conceived as a direct sequel to the FIVE STAR track “Strong as Steel.” Naturally I just completely made that up, but it is a great track, heavy pounding verses and faster choruses with a big vocal hook that had me singing along very quickly. I am not sure if the solo on this one was performed by Jona Tee or one of the myriad guests, they snagged to help them with this release, but it is another level of epic.

Cry for Freedom” and “Call of the Underworld” are both rousing pieces, the latter having a cinematic scope and majesty to it, while “Stardust” brings back the 80s synths for an intro before we are treated to a guitar and synth onslaught of some ferocious speed. This one has a somewhat twee and earnest delivery in the vocals and lyrics that makes it feel like a lead track from a Disney movie, but with a wildly fast and heavy guitar riff. I’ll forgive the Disney thing however, as once again this contains a virtuosic and flex-able guitar solo that will sate the most shred hungry of Metallers. It also shows off the band’s penchant for varied compositions that keep you guessing.

Event Horizon” is another wild trip into madly pacey guitars and epic choruses, before “The End of All” brings the pace down with a majestic and atmospheric mid-tempo foot stomper. “Fearless” has a riff that sounds a lot like something Adrian Smith might have some up with, and although the song has more of a European tilt to it, whenever the guitars are duelling it sounds like classic Smith/Murray stuff.

That just leaves the closing epic, and title track “Gate of the Gods” clocking in at over seven minutes they have thrown everything at this song, with an Eastern inspired piano and keyboard intro it doesn’t take long before we are thrust into an inspired bass heavy verse that winds and grooves into distant sounding epic choruses, building slowly as it goes, each passage becomes larger and more grandiloquent than the last. The breathless guitar solo harks back to the eastern themes again and has a Joe Satriani style to it. By four minutes in the rhythm section are now firing on all cylinders delivering a bruising performance before it all suddenly comes crashing back to earth to start the cycle again. Very ambitious stuff.

The production is brilliant on this album, the song writing superb and most importantly it is a whole lot of fun. Despite feeling a little mawkish in the lyrics on occasion, you can feel the great passion they have put into this project, it positively drips with style and energy and for a band made up of musicians better known for cheesy Hard Rock it is quite a surprise.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. A New Horizon (Intro)
2. We Unite
3. Stronger Than Steel
4. Cry for Freedom
5. Call of The Underground
6. Stardust
7. Event Horizon
8. The End of All
9. Fearless
10. Gate of The Gods
Lineup:
Jona Tee - Bass, Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals (backing)
Erik Grönwall - Vocals
Record Label: Frontiers Records SRL
     


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