|Review: Lost Horizon - A Flame To The Ground Beneath|
|A Flame To The Ground Beneath|
Label: Music For Nations
Year released: 2003
Genre: Progressive Power Metal
Review online: April 15, 2003
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
for:A Flame To The Ground Beneath
Holy Shit! I’ve been mulling over this review for weeks, trying to put together what the hell I’m going to say about this album. I was a huge fan of Lost Horizon’s first CD "Awakening the World", and so I had big BIG expectations for the follow-up. But I never expected this. How could I know Lost Horizon would make such a huge leap and surpass every expectation I had? Words like Incredible come to mind, also Magnificent and Godly. This is easily the best metal album of the year, and one of the best power metal albums of all time. "A Flame to the Ground Beneath" is a landmark, and a new-born classic.
While their first album drew a lot of comparisons to Hammerfall, here Lost Horizon have emerged from any shadow of imitation and established a stunning and singular style like nothing you have ever heard before. There’s a little Crimson Glory influence here and there (I understand they do "Red Sharks" live) but really they have a sound all their own. "Flame…" is nowhere near as direct and accessible as the debut. There are no anthems like "Welcome Back" or "Perfect Warrior", but six long, long songs in the vein of "Kingdom of my Will". Lost Horizon spin epic songs with mega time changes, a million riffs and vocal parts, and never lose track of what they are doing. Normally longs songs repeat themselves or have wanky instrumental breaks in the middle, not these guys. I can’t even imagine how they come up with this stuff, let alone play it. Even the twelve-minute epic "Highlander (The One)" is a real song, not a six-minute song with a six-minute jerkoff break in the middle (al la Dream Theater). Lost Horizon cram every song with hooks and grooves and killer vocal lines, enough for an entire album by any other band, all in one song, and yet the whole flows together as a coherent entity. It is the damnedest thing I have ever heard.
This is a heavier record than the last album, and "A Flame to the Ground Beneath" shines with stellar performances. The guitar work is stunning, sounding much deeper and fuller with two players instead of one as on "Awakening…" The keyboards add another dimension to the sound, lending a grandiosity that suits the band perfectly. As a whole the band is unbelievably tight, able to turn on a dime and change time in literally mid-riff like it was nothing at all. At times, as on "Cry of a Restless Soul" and "Highlander" the playing is simply mind-boggling in its intensity, inventiveness, and virtuosity.
Which brings me to the star of the show. Daniel Heiman is a god. I swear, the man is not human. When he was a baby the Gods reached down and turned his voice into a thunderbolt. On "Awakening the World" he impressed me with his skill, range, and power. I thought he might even come close someday to the great Midnight. Here, on this album, he has blown every other vocalist on earth completely out of the fucking water. Not Midnight, not Rob Halford, not Geoff Tate in his prime have ever been able to do what this guy can do. He makes 99% of the other metal ‘singers’ sound like pathetic jokes. He hits notes so high he seems about to hit some kind of vocal vanishing point. His tone, his sheer control just beggar description. I studied voice for 8 years, and I know how hard some of the shit he pulls really is. The way his voice swoops and dives, turns hairpins from croon to scream without breaking a sweat – I just cannot believe the things he does. On "Highlander(The One)" he lays down a performance for the ages.
The only possible gripe I have about this album is that three of nine tracks are bullshit instrumentals with no substance to them. I would rather have another real song, or two, or three. This album, even at its length, is too short by about 10 hours. I listen to this and all I want is more. I can’t say enough about this CD. It literally brought tears to my eyes the first time I heard it. Album of the year, man. Album of the motherfucking year.
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|Review: Awakening The World (reviewed by Michel Renaud)|
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