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Lost Horizon > Battle Hymns

By Chris Dick

When it's all said and done, few 'true heavy metal' bands will be able to stand on the merit of 'true' musicianship and songwriting when the proverbial storm passes. Throughout metal's history, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and a select few have weathered turbulent times and proved their longevity. For Sweden's Lost Horizon, it would be entirely predictable to say that these four bare-chested musicians are in it for the long haul. That's what the majority of the press says about every 'true metal' outfit: words such as 'classic,' 'visionary,' and other flowery language are used far too often to describe complacent music, specifically heavy metal. Lost Horizon are far from pioneers, but what they lack in genuine trail-blazing skills they make up for it with sheer musical force. Indeed, Awakening the World is a heavy metal album, one that has all the earmarks of the genre and then some. Lost Horizon's compositional knowledge is virtually unparalleled, where intricacy, speed and keen melodic sense are woven together to form a songwriting feat that's mirrored by none of their peers. Yup. Rhapsody, Nocturnal Rites and, certainly not, Hammerfall simply can't hold a candle to Lost Horizon's mammoth know-how. Bassist Martin Furšngen, aka Cosmic Antagonist, provides a brief glimpse into Lost Horizon's complex and imaginative world.

Lost Horizon is a relatively new outfit. How did the band come together? Iím sure Wojtek (guitars) was instrumental in organizing the group of musicians.
It started back in 1990. Me and Wojtek started a band called Highlander at that time, and this band has been around, on and off, throughout the years. We played for a couple of years and then put it on ice and did something else for a couple of years. The last re-start we did was in early 1998 when started the goal of putting enough material together to make an album. And then getting signed. Before that, it was just a band that we played, because we enjoy playing that style of music so much. When we started again it was me and Wojtek and Christian, the drummer. We spent about a year arranging and re-arranging the material - some of the material has been around for quite some time, like the early 90ís. When we were about ready with the material, we started looking for a singer. We managed to find Daniel, and then we recorded a demo, which we sent out. We sent it to Music For Nations among others, but we ended up signing to Music For Nations with a pretty good deal. From early 2000, thatís when the recording process started. We mixed it in August.

What happened between Highlander and Lost Horizon? Wojtek had Luciferion.
The only two original members are me and Wojtek. Christianís been in it once or twice throughout the years. We all played in different bands - Christian and myself went to the Musicianís Institute in 1993, spending a rough year there. It was a fantastic, ever-evolving experience. I learned more in one year there than I have in my entire career as a musician. L.A. is not that great, but the school is great if you want to learn. You have everything you need there.

You came to the states to go to school for a year. Then where did you go?
Then I went back and we re-started Highlander for about a year. Then I went on tour with Luciferion with Wojtek. It was only in Europe. After that, I experimented with some other bands. We finally figured out that we had to come together to play metal again. Death metal has never been my thing. I got into because I like the outburst of power and the technical aspects of it - I really like that. I donít listen to much death metal, actually. It was a very natural step for all of us to play this type of heavy metal again, Ďcause even though all of us had tried different styles, this is what we really wanted to play. Itís what we really wanted deep down. It felt natural to do it.

So you feel strongly about Lost Horizon and the music genre its associated with?
Absolutely. Itís the main thing for all of us.

On a personal note, why did you start playing bass?
Itís not often a metal band comes along with a prominent bass sound.
Well, to be honest, I was very inspired by Steve Harris when I was 15. So thatís why I wanted to play bass. I always liked the way the bass connects the rhythm and melodies; thatís always been interesting to me. Iím not one of those guitarists that werenít good enough to continue with guitar. It seems to be quite common. I really like the instrument, basically. Iíve always enjoyed the way the bass sounds. I didnít really reflect over whether or not I should play the bass. I just started. Early on, I only played Iron Maiden tunes, Ďcause I was so influenced by Steve Harris. From then, I started to listen to others. Iíve been listening to a lot of different bands. One of the first bands I started listening to was Manowar, but when I listened to them, I didnít think of it. I just listened to the music, and loved it. I didnít get into the instrumental details too much. Steve Harris was a big influence for me. Even though Joey is more advance than Steve is in his technical skills, the Iron Maiden bass lines are more noticeable. They stand out.

In your thanks list, you mentioned a ton of bass players. Are there any more bassists out there that deserve recognition?
Michael Manring, heís one far out there bass player. Heís different; heís into doing these weird solo projects with a lot of melody and tapping. Heís developed a technique where he detunes the bass in the middle of a song. Heís got a four-string bass with 36 frets and five detuners on a four-string bass, so he can make a lot of different tunes. He can get chords not normally reached with a bass. Itís a really interesting way of playing. Garry Willis is a fantastic bass player. Joey DeMaio is a great musician, too.

What about Les Claypool, Jaco Pastorius or...
Definitely. Les Claypool is one of those crazy players - doing things differently. He makes his own way of making sound. Jaco is great, too. I never listened to him that much. Obviously, heís a fantastic bass player.

Where do you put the Lost Horizon in the grand scheme of heavy metal?
I think itís classic heavy metal with a modern approach. It doesnít have a lot of inspiration from a lot of modern heavy metal. Itís more spirit from 80ís metal, but it has modern elements. The fast double bass drums... I donít know which area of the genre it puts us, but we just call it, Ďtrue metal.í

At this point in time, donít you think Lost Horizon is riding the wave thatís already over? Do you see the band doing things differently?
We definitely are helping to evolve and to create something new. Obviously, a lot of things have been done, so itís very difficult to be very different. We donít listen to any modern metal at all. If I get a promotional copy of some famous German power metal band, I listen to it. Iím not a great fan of late 90ís German power metal, though. Hopefully, weíre not going to end up in that direction. Weíre working on our sound and our music. Weíre not trying to not be like anyone else, but weíre not trying copy anything either. We are doing our own thing, and let it evolve around that.

Well, you are catering to some clichťs, such as the fantasy element in the lyrics.
Actually, weíre not. Weíre actually trying to say something. From a point of view, itís done before. When you say fantasy, I think of dragons, demons and castles; wind in my air, type of thing. Weíre trying to add a timeless factor to it. Obviously, weíre quite interested in the scientific aspect of frontier pushing into outer space. Itís not like weíre only into galaxies and stuff.

Do you feel an image is necessary to promote heavy metal music? Is it a necessary part of the concept of the album?
I think we felt this was a very natural thing for us to do. Weíre not the kind of people to go on stage with black trousers and black t-shirts. Many people do that these days. We wanted to be more personal, more visual. Thatís why we use costumes and body painted to enhance that expression.

Alice Cooper and Kiss have done that before. About 25 years ago.
Alice Cooper and Kiss did it because it was eye-catching. It was a gimmick. It was to get attention, which they managed to get. Of course, painting and stuff like that has been done before. Again, we do what we feel comes natural. Weíre not really thinking whether itís been done before. Thatís not the point. Itís not to be eye-catching. Itís a natural thing for us.

Musically, what songs to you feel indicate where Lost Horizon is heading?
I think the one song that contains everything about us is, "Heart of Storm." From the seven real tunes, I think there are seven different tunes. Theyíre all from the same genre, but theyíre all different. I think weíre going to keep that mixture, but I would think it would keep going in the direction of "World through My Fateless Eyes," "The Kingdom of My Will" and "Heart of Storm."

"World through My Fateless Eyes" is one of the better songs on the album. The songís main riff is very catchy yet contains a sense of sophistication most heavy metal bands fail to realize.
Itís my favorite song, actually. Itís got some kind of certain feel. I like the rhythm in it, the tempo itís in - those comfortable eighth notes. I also like the vocal lines. They change. I, too, like riff that youíre talking about.

"Denial of Fate," on the opposite end, has one of the greatest vocal lines Iíve heard in a long time.
Well, I think you and I have the same taste. Those are my two favorites. Itís got a very nice bass line on the chorus.

I was pleased to hear that Lost Horizon didnít overuse keyboards on the record. There are so many heavy metal bands that forgo guitars for keyboards. Itís sort of disturbing.
You donít like keyboards? We feel it naturally enhances the music. Keyboards add something that would be missing otherwise.

How much control do you have over your bass lines?
If I have good ideas, then I present them. Usually, Wojtek has very good ideas and we just perfect them; changing some notes here and there. The writing process is very thorough: first Wojtek works with ideas and then we try them out at rehearsal. Then, we really start working with the arrangement. If heís pleased, then we really start working with individual instruments. I sit down with him with the bass, and Christian sits down with him with the drums. Itís very detailed. Everything is very planned. We did add one portion of riffs to "Worlds though My Fateless Eyes" -that melody that we both really like. Thatís why it returns after the stop in the end, Ďcause it was such a good melody we felt like we needed to add it again.

Where does Lost Horizon stand lyrically? On "Sworn in the Metal Wind," you talk about kicking someoneís ass. Is that the tough-guy metal mentality similar to Metallicaís "Whiplash?"
Yeah? Itís actually kicking oneís own ass. Thatís about telling someone who has fallen too deep in misery that he needs a kick in the rear end to get going again. The entire album is very much is like rising from the abyss of misery and gaining strength through the music. Itís about finding yourself, getting strong again. Itís not about kicking other peopleís ass. Sometimes itís necessary, but...

Well, there arenít any ballads on the record. I guess came to the wrong conclusion with the above question. In any case, itís good to hear an album without a typical ballad.
I donít think there ever will be. Itís not our thing at all. The closest we come to a ballad is "Perfect Warrior." We will do some instrumental interludes like "Song of Air." I think most bands think that people ask for it. A lot of times, itís because of the media. Bands want to get played on music shows that donít normally play heavy metal, but they play ballads. So they write ballads. Actually, I think there are only a few bands that are good at ballads. One of those bands is the Scorpions. They made some really good ballads. Have you ever heard Iron Maiden play a ballad? I donít think so. The thing with Hammerfall... I really donít think itís that successful. That singer sang with us before in Highlander.

Itís a good thing you found Daniel. Heís got a lot of power. His range suits the music of Lost Horizon perfectly.
Heís got a completely different range. Itís more power. Heís got this natural magic and power to his voice.

Lost Horizon's Awakening the World is one 'power metal' album that shouldn't be missed. Fans of Rhapsody and Blind Guardian will particularly enjoy Lost Horizon's full-on metal assault, but be prepared for a beating not the usual pampering bands of similar ilk have a tendency to convey. Lost Horizon's Awakening the World is out now on Koch. For more information, direct your attention to: [ LOST HORIZON ].


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