HORIZON’S END – The Great Destroyer (2023)
HORIZON’S END is one of the most long lasting prog metal acts from Greece. After a long hiatus in 2019 the band was reactivated, and now they are releasing the new album “The Great Destroyer“, a magnum opus that combines a wide range of influences from 70s Symphonic Prog and 80s futurism to the Progressive Metal of yesterday and today.
All the above (and even more) influences have been perfectly balanced to highlight a unique musical result. I will put it straight and simple: there are lots of great Prog Metal bands around but none sounds and feels like HORIZON’S END.
The band’s mastermind and keyboardist Sakis Bandis has composed a phenomenal album which is trademarked by the brilliant performances of Kosta Vreto on guitars, Stergios Kourou on drums and Kostas Scandalis on bass. Vasilios Topalides vocals are greater than great, generously offering a serious touch of the darkness that is included in this release.
If agony has a melody, then this would be the very theme of opener “Damage”. The song is taking you by storm in its -ala SHADOW GALLERY– distress. A combination of aggression, anger and sorrow driven by sharp guitars and thundorous rhythm section. The vocal melodies would progressively conquer the verse(s), before letting the layered chorus to overtake the mastery of the song.
“Last to Succumb” is a magnificent flashback gate to the 90s golden Prog Metal era and the band’s debut album. The heavy main riff that shapes the verses would take to heaven all those who so hardly miss this kind of music. You would not expect a Hatzidakis inspired vocal melody to fit in there but it is happening. The song’s chorus would stick into your mind forever.
“The Trail of Notes” is a great study to the musical-storytelling: an imaginary play featuring actors that have the blackest real stories to tell while the music theatrical feel of the music are combined on an expanded Progressive Metal delirium.
“Another War” highlights all the late 90s and early 00s Prog Metal excellence, highlighted by a great keyboard solo akin Vitalij Kuprij – that heavy, ivory runs we all love. “Catalyst of Fear” is complex and melodic, also blessed with a serious Sympho touch among other great features, while “The Will Rise Again” delivers a ‘intelligent’ aggression with some of SYMPHONY X to it.
“The Parade” is a deep musical manifesto combining the futuristic 80s synth-based realm – that commercial, accessible synth based sonic experiments Prog bands of the 70s were into, during the 80s – highlighting at the very same time selected portraits of the Scandinavian Prog scene of the 90s. A wide touch of inner melancholy would be transformed into main melodies that would be progressively turned into pompous crescendos. A different song from the rest, and a very strong one.
The surrealistic moment of the album belongs to the “Voices from the Sea” track. Complexity, futurism, enigmatic choruses and even some brutal vocals performed by guest Theoharis Lirantzakis (HAIL SPIRIT NOIR).
The epilogue of the album belongs to the darkest song that the band has composed so far: “Postcards from War”. Topalides delivers a soulful vocal performance in this one. What can someone write about this song? If mourning is turned to melody it would sound like this…
“The Great Destroyer” is a quite different prog metal album. HORIZON’S END is a different band from the genre. Their music is complex and elaborated, but at the same time accessible.
It is based on a composing formula that highlights the songwriting as the record’s main feature, following the classic “intro-Verse-Chorus-Solo-Chorus” structure. This way the listener is more easily connected with “songs” and not “musical pieces”. Songs that are highlighting -and straightly transferring- the album’s common message about the war devastation.
It is a clear challenge for a Progressive Metal band to attach all the desired features and elements on songs that -because of the above mentioned formula – have to last shorter than usually expected on a Prog Metal album. HORIZON’S END have managed to achieve this goal.
01 – Damage
02 – Last To Succumb
03 – The Trail Of Notes
04 – Another War
05 – Catalyst Of Fear
06 – They Will Rise Again
07 – Nightmares
08 – The Parade
09 – Voices From The Sea
10 – Postcards From War
Vassilios Topalides – vocals
Kosta Vreto – guitars
Kostas Scandalis – bass
Sakis Bandis – keyboards
Stergios Kourou – drums
Additional vocals on track 9 by Theoharis Lirantzakis