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Strange Horizon - Beyond the Strange Horizon

Strange Horizon
Beyond the Strange Horizon
by Kevin Lewis at 20 June 2022, 8:58 AM

STRANGE HORIZON is a Norwegian Doom Metal band formed in the 2017. This trio is not meant to be a throwback to the BLACK SABBATH sound, but the influence is unmistakable. The sludgy riffs and dark rhythms are, in their own words, neither modern nor old. They are fresh compositions based on what they feel like playing. Beyond The Strange Horizon was released on May 6, 2022, via Apollon Records.

The record opens with whistling winds and a heavy, atmospheric riff for the title track, “Tower of Stone.”. The drums are slow and evenly paced, adding texture to the rhythm rather than keeping time. The bass is the pacesetter here. The lyrics are dark and oppressive. For one to live, another must die and under a floor of skull and bone set an imagery of dark magic and forbidden arts. The tempo varies some on this track, going from mid-tempo to pure sludge.

Fake Templar” is a bit faster, such as that is with Doom Metal. The lyrics on this one feel like they could just as easily be about a false prophet/messiah. The backing vocals add some pretty cool aspects to this song. The bigger sound of the many voices adds a bit of a choir tone, part of which is enhanced by the way the voices use an odd intonation making them feel like they are in a wide-open space and echoing.

At eight minutes, the second longest song is “Divine Fear.” The lyrics are eerie and almost appear to be telling of the desire of Lucifer to get out from under the ever-present, ever-watchful eyes of God. The only place to escape that gaze is the void, where it is assumed even God cannot see. The riff is heavy and dark, the ambient noises under the music ethereal and almost alien. It gives the impression that maybe this tale is more science fiction than historic. The drums are heavier on this track and the bass is more rhythm guitar than anything. This is dark and appealing together.

For a take on slavery, we have “Chain of Society.” This one has a faster tempo through much of the song. The lyrics are more about the mind being chained, but the body follows where the mind goes, so is there really a difference? This could be about ancient history or modern society. The use of the chains as a metaphor is still so powerful. The music amplifies the torture with dark and harsh tones that have a heavy feeling, like the oppressive weight of the metaphorical bonds. Here, music and lyrics work together to create a complete image.

Death In Ice Valley” is the longest song at over nine minutes. This is pure, unadulterated sludge. The tempo is slow and the tone haunted. Speaking of a woman with abilities that would be considered witchy in times past, she was likely hiding to avoid death, but of course, someone would sell her out to save themselves. Again, the instrumentation provides an imagery. This could be a video about witch trials throughout history, only with a soundtrack.

STRANGE HORIZON is right. They are neither modern nor classic. They seem to be in a realm of their own making, occupying a space made just for them. With all the appeal of the stoner, doom and sludge genres, they have crafted a series of songs that tell stories, not just a jumble of lyrics that say a lot but mean nothing. These are carefully honed songs meant to stimulate the mind and spur the imagination.

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

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Tower of Stone
2. Fake Templar
3. The Final Vision
4. Divine Fear
5. They Never Knew
6. Chains of Society
7. Turning the Corner
8. Death in Ice Valley
Lineup:
Qvillio – Vocals/Guitars
Lindesteg – Bass/Additional Vocals
Wergeland – Drums
Additional Musicians:
Bjørn Ognøy – Ambience/Background Noises
Andreas D. Nilsen – Additional Vocals
Merethe Heggset – Additional Vocals
Record Label: Apollon Records
     


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