For those weak of heart, I'm about to review a disc whose guitarist/composer's name is "Transcendental Protagonist." But before we get to that, let's get the easy part of the review out of the way.
Music-wise and production-wise, this album is the best thing I've heard this year. Those only impressed by heavy distortion, palm mutes and screaming might hear something on this disc they haven't heard on an CD in a long time - musical talent. If you prefer screaming to singing (even harmonies!), walk away. If you wonder why more bands don't have DJ's, don't bother with this disc. If when you hear a new band you say, "God, I hope this ALSO sounds like Korn," pass this one by. If you think keyboards are only for pussies, keep on truckin' good buddy. However, if you have a soft spot in your heart for power metal, enjoy melodies, and can get over the band's theatrics, Lost Horizon is worth a listen.
Theatrics? Yes, unfortunately for these guys this is going to come up in every review and interview for them. Maybe it's something in Sweden's water, I'm not sure, but the band presents itself as medieval guys from outer space. That's really the best way I can describe it. All the photos of the band members show them in Braveheart-like garb, pasted into Photoshop looking starry backgrounds.
Yes, that's "Transcendental Protagonist." His role in the band is "Poesy of spiritual enlightenment / the entire string romanticism / soulhealing euphoria generators." Fortunately right under that, it reads, "Translation for mortals - lyrics / guitars / synthesisers. Earthshape - Wojtek Lisicki." The other members have similar names: Cosmic Antagonist, Preternatural Transmogrifyer, and Ethereal Magnanimus. For a minute I thought I was reading the liner notes from a GWAR album.
The whole imagery of the album is unique. Most of the bands lyrics are about strength, empowerment, and being a better person. The whole image of them being some sort of medieval men plays into that and somehow it works. I'm not sure I understand the whole outer space angle, maybe it's like time travel or something, or maybe they just had a lot of leftover space pictures for Photoshop. While reading through the lyrics, one thing I thought to myself was that it's nice to see an album that's not all about teen-angst for a change.
Speaking of imagery, the CD is very nicely packaged! The front of the CD has a painted mural of people being held as slaves by bigger people with rat, pig, and vulture heads. Lost Horizon are coming out of the clouds, looking over the situation - very fantasy oriented. The back of the jewel case has Lost Horizon freeing the people, by capturing the animal head people and putting them in chains. Go Lost Horizon! Anyone who saw Braveheard knows not to screw with a bunch of muscular guys with painted faces! I really have no idea what these pictures have to do with anything, but I've had three beers so far, so it seems more funny than weird at this point. Many of the lyrics deal with "freeing yourself," so maybe that's what the animal farm scene portreys. The inside booklet gives each band member a full page of thanks to go with their solar pictures, as well as a complete set of lyrics and plenty of credits and confusing medieval/etheral terminology.
But enough about Lost Horizon's image - these guys are all about their music. The drumming is rapid-fire throughout the disc. The guitars, when not soloing, dance around the keyboards. The bass is very progressive, and reminded me a lot of Dream Theatre. The vocals fit this style of music perfect - lots of singing, harmonies, and big choruses. The lyrics remind me a lot of old Iron Maiden; very positive with lots of fantasy mixed in.
I'm not sure how these guys plan on breaking into the US market - their music is not very radio friendly, I doubt MTV will be playing any of their videos anytime soon, and their current touring plans only involve Sweden and France. While I don't see this making a huge dent in the charts, I DO think that this is easily one of the best albums of this genre I've ever heard. Stunning recording and production, a clear mastery of their instruments, and advanced harmonies and melodies make Lost Horizon's debut disc an instant classic.
01. The Quickening
02. Heart Of Storm
03. Sworn In The Metal Wind
04. The Song Of Air
05. World Through My Fateless Eyes
06. Perfect Warrior
07. Denial Of Fate
08. Welcome Back
09. The Kingdom Of My Will
10. The Redintegration
Link: Lost Horizon's Website