Horizon Ignited – Towards the Dying Lands Review

“It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed some good ol’ melodeath,” so thought I as I opted to review Towards the Dying Lands, the sophomore full-length release from Finland’s Horizon Ignited. And, indeed, it has been—I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve really enjoyed new melodeath. And, of course, my well-meaning colleagues and cellmates here at Angry Metal Guy do tend to descend on all new melodeath entries like vultures, so I often have to rely on their opinions about new releases in the style, which are of dubious quality at best. All of this is to say I was fairly excited to begin listening to Towards the Dying Lands, which, it turns out, is a solid sample of the genre with all the modern stylings that make it fun.

Between melodic guitar riffing, keyboards that accent aplenty, and a vocalist that both sings and growls, Horizon Ignited is melodeath about as straightforward as you’ve heard. All of the elements are there, and opener “Beyond Your Reach” employs all of them; the guitar leads are slick, the riffs are just heavy enough to get your head nodding, and the song is very well-paced. Keys and clean singing do a great job of providing smooth textures to the pre-chorus and chorus in particular, and the album is off to a solid start. “End of the Line” takes a similar approach, feeling familiar with the way it crafts catchy melodies, and simple-but-memorable lyrics, especially in its chorus.

If you’re starting to notice a pattern with those compliments, you’ve already got a good idea of how Towards the Dying Lands will continue, but if we are to accuse Horizon Ignited of following a formula, I have to say they do it well. Still, the strongest moments of Towards the Dying Lands occur when they branch out a bit. It’s clear throughout the album that they are taking notes from some of their fellow countrymen. As things progress I’m constantly seeing little nods to Amorphis, but the chorus and leads in “Servant” do a lot to push the comparison for me. It’s a strong song and one of the most memorable moments of the album. On the other side of the spectrum, “Death Has Left Her Side” reminds me of no one so much as Swallow the Sun in their early days (plus a quick nod to Ghost Brigade along the way), with a huge, brooding intro that deftly toes the line between doom metal and death metal. It doesn’t feel out of place at all, and the feeling behind the song makes it an easy album highlight.

For the most part, however, Towards the Dying Lands is a fairly formulaic album, following the patterns described earlier. This is hardly a bad thing—”Fall Apart” is about as straightforward a melodeath tune I’ve heard and it’s great—but it means that, for the most part, this is a predictable listen. Clocking in at just under 40 minutes, Horizon Ignited are here and then they’re gone, with ten quick tracks that show up, rock, and then head out. There’s no time for the listen to grow stale, no noticeable production or mixing quibbles to make, and really nothing to complain about. There are small things, of course—I don’t think the clean singing choices really benefit “Guiding Light” for example—but I can consider no part of this album bad. On the other hand, there isn’t much to get excited about either. There is no innovation, no grasping for the stars, just a really good job that you can enjoy for a bit while it’s here.

Still, if I’m not actively excited about Towards the Dying Lands, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it. As far as melodeath goes, it’s got a little bit of everything, and I’m very happy to have got the chance to sit down with it over the past little bit. Familiarity is seldom a bad thing, and Horizon Ignited have made a compelling case for their sophomore release. I do hope to hear them innovate a bit more on the next one, because this album feels like a very solid foundation for a very promising melodeath journey to come.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Website: facebook.com/HorizonIgnited
Releases Worldwide: July 1st, 2022

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