Horizon Ablaze released their new album The Weight of a Thousand Suns last week through Leviathan, leaving behind for the most part the dark, graven, blackened death metal box they were put in with the previous album Dodsverk, and ventured out into the progressive black metal wilderness stretching into the fiery horizon, following bands of the ilk of fellow Norwegians, Enslaved and Emperor.
My poison when it comes to metal is black metal in all its grim landscapes and I am glad to see more bands bringing a more progressive element to freshen up the scene. The album artwork takes a black metal/death metal tone with colour applied in abundance. The living, flaming heart surrounded by skeletons wrapped up in entrails and sinew welcomes you to a new era for the band. Let’s take a delve into the fire….
1 – ‘Sleep is the Brother of Death’
It starts off with a blast beat and slows down midway to a steady pummelling. Right from the outset, you are made aware this is a fair distance away from the previous material with the absence of traditional black/death metal vocals. The guitars are grinding from verse to verse.
2 – ‘Delusions of Grandeur’
This track’s guitars are similar to the last but the pace is changed up and down throughout. With the addition of some clean, gothic choric vocals making the sound quite theatrical. Although the guitars are fast, the pace of the song itself is quite slow. The track is finished off in a brutal black metal assault.
3 – ‘Ghost of a Previous Nightmare’
This track starts off with soft guitar tones and bombastic drums bringing in the familiar guitar riffs from previous tracks. I found some of the vocals on this track almost metalcore in style. Now I can envision most black metal fans recoiling in horror at that thought but it works and proves just how far Horizon Ablaze are willing to go…
4 – ‘She Who Walks Upon The Sea’
The guitar riff in this track stands out with an up and down transition. It is a slower pace with an atmospheric black metal sound. Halfway through the speed shows up and brings in a more traditional black metal feel.
5 – ‘The End of a Dream’
The longest track on the album it begins with a totally progressive lead in, clean vocals, unconventional music structure for black/death metal, clean tones and no distortion. Some metalcore vocals are thrown in the mix. Probably the most progressive showing so far— a real shocker. However, after 1:50 the black metal assault begins again.
6 – ‘Behind The Veil’
With this track, we go back to a more death metal sound with black metal style vocals. The slower parts sound a bit more metalcore to me. Towards the end of the track, it gets slow and purposeful almost doom-like— another influence to add into the mix.
7 – ‘My Soul Divided’
Death metal vocals are present here, making this and the previous track with death metal influences. The clean tones on top of blast beats and clean vocals with another metalcore edge add to the progressive nature of the album.
8 – ‘Insidious’
As with previous tracks, we have clean vocals, spoken words, black metal vocals, consistent riffs and melody make this a very fitting final track clearly signposting the direction the band are travelling…
Clearly Horizon Ablaze want to tread a new path in the genre and have done a seriously good job, in my opinion, at doing so. They have given us a high production progressive black metal album with great transitions between tracks. The death metal blast beats with an atmospheric black metal and dark melodic feel. Following in the footsteps of some of the Norwegian black metal legends, Horizon Ablaze are firmly staking the ground of the frozen wastes with their flame bathed flag. This is a band to watch out for, keep an eye out for a Blaze in the northern sky…