Horisont

support Black Lung
author AP date 02/06/16 venue Beta, Copenhagen, DEN

As the primarily electronic Distortion festival raged on for its second day, it was crucial to continue dosing myself with the antidote in the evening. And although the choice was anything but easy given the riff orgy taking place at the other end of town courtesy of Lecherous Gaze and Alucarda, the chance to evaluate the live worth of Black Lung in the wake of reviewing the trio’s sophomore album “See the Enemy” very recently, was just too tempting to pass on. That the headlining act, Sweden’s heritage rock and power metal blender Horisont, has yet to disappoint me, only added to the appeal. Tragically, the turnout was dismal to begin with, and barely acceptable as the hour grew later. But then, who ever let the number of fellow patrons get in the way of a good time?

All photos courtesy of Jakob Muxoll

Black Lung

At most 20 people have decreed it worthwhile to turn up early and peruse this Baltimore, MD’s surging heavy psych trio, yet being so far from home, misters Dave Cavalier, Adam Bufano and Elias Mays Schutzman are determined to make the most out of the evening nonetheless. Adorned with the house sound engineer Rasmus Toftelund’s quest for perfection, the band’s translation of their newly released album, the already mentioned “See the Enemy”, is even more successful than I had imagined, frontman Cavalier’s guitar boosted with sufficient octave to make the absence of a bassist a non-issue, and every riff and jam coming through loud and clear from the PA. But as flawless as the technical execution is, and as much as the three musicians yearn to perform with verve, music this spaced out never benefits from a gaping excuse of an audience such as this. The intensity of the music is lost.

But even then, you need to offer due credit to these guys for being so willing to expend energy while receiving none in return. Bufano and Schutzman in particular look riveting, pouring their passion for this music into an expressive, vigorous and above all honest performance. There are, however, glimpses of defeatism mixed into it as well as Black Lung try and try to no avail to pretend like there is a crowd here. On a personal level, there is enjoyment to be had from the concert, as at the very least it signals that Black Lung is, in fact, a potent live band, and one which I would sign up to watch again any day. It is just that all of their effort dissolves into the emptiness, and as a result, there is constant, tangible frustration in the air on both sides of the stage edge.

5

Horisont

Horisont have made a bold habit out of starting their shows with the soaring title track to their 2015 record “Odyssey”, an 11-minute epic which serves as a kind of entrance examination for people looking to hop onboard this train. Composed from several sections that each represent a facet of the quintet’s music (be it galloping Iron Maiden-esque power metal, balladry, or straight-up classic rock), the song is structured in a progressive manner yet also comes full circle at the end, to introduce a band for whom experimenting and reaching far beyond the confines of archetypical retro revival stuff is absolutely paramount. And if those 11 minutes feel testing, then forget about watching the entire show, because given the liberty of a headlining weekend show, Horisont are renowned for busting out just as many tracks as they please — something that the 50 or so attendees here will have realised by the time “Bad News” concludes the proceedings after 75 minutes or so of sweaty rocking out.

The enthusiasm of the five musicians is as surprising as it is admirable, although it must be said that under the circumstances one must forgive them for simply doing their duty and not pushing the show into wild euphoria as they are perfectly capable of. Mind you, it never looks rehearsed, and especially during the frequent solos and instrumental segments Horisont hit their groove, five headfuls of long, unkempt hair energetically thrashing around. And seeing as there is no need to satisfy a large audience — from their willingness to miss out on Distortion festivities and other concerts tonight, it is fairly safe to assume that most of those in attendance are well versed in the Horisont’s repertoire — the setlist is a dream-come-true for connoisseurs of the band’s music. Four of the evening’s 13 choice cuts are sung entirely in Swedish — among them the first song that Horisont ever wrote: “Tiggaren” off their 2009 album “Två sidor av horisonten” — and there is time to give “Road to Cairo” from 2012’s “Second Assault” an extremely rare airing as well, much to the crowd’s liking.

Those inclusions give the concert that special, intimate vibe, of a band catering to its most dedicated disciples. And as such, the omission of the staple, ultra-catchy “Writing on the Wall”, for instance, is barely noticed. Contrary to his tendency to stretch his voice a little too far on record sometimes, it is also a pleasure to witness a more tempered, Bruce Dickinson-sounding Axel Söderberg bringing the setlist to life, with the irresistible cowbell overload of “Light My Way” and the already mentioned “Tiggaren” rendered especially well. There is little to criticise thus, with just the mismatch between a setlist that feels ‘personalised’ and musicians who, whilst performing with zeal, do so with a notch too much routine for my liking. In terms of the music chosen for the occasion and its technical occasion, tonight’s showing must go down as one of the best Horisont gigs I have seen. But knowing the ecstasy they are capable of whipping up, the visual aesthetic just feels too dampened to justify the highest accolades this time.

7

Setlist:

  • 01. Odyssey
  • 02. Light My Way
  • 03. The Unseen
  • 04. Vänd tillbaka
  • 05. Crusaders of Death
  • 06. Tiggaren
  • 07. Road to Cairo
  • 08. Diamonds in Orbit
  • 09. Timmarna
  • 10. Visa vägen
  • 11. Break the Limit
  • 12. Nightrider
  • 13. Bad News

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