(c) 2017 Independent Release
- Celebrate And Kneel
- Ain't Time For This
- Black N Blue
- Bullet Proof Innocence
- Caged Emotions
Brazil, at one time, was a hot bed in the metal industry, particularly if you were into thrash, which I very much was in the 80s and 90s (still love it, to be honest). Something about the brutality of the bands from the South American country really grabbed my attention, and even though I still preferred the Bay Area Sound to those coming from bands like Sepultura, Korzus, Torture Squad, and Executer (sic), I still kept an ear to what was coming from the region. Unfortunately, a lot of what I used to really like about the South American metal scene evaporated as death metal, and eventually black metal, took over the thrash scene and tuned me out, as I am not a fan of those particular genres.
When this CD came to me, I was not sure what the heck it was. For one, I have no clue how the band found me or managed to get a CD to me, but that's not overly unusual I guess, as I get a lot of independent stuff funneled my way. But if you look at the cover, and combine it with the name 'Owl Company', there is no way you would likely come up with a description to fit this new export from Sao Paulo, Brazil. While not thrash, this is definitely metal...HEAVY metal...albeit more in the groove-heavy, sludgy, southern metal style that a lot of people associate with later Pantera or, more to my mind, a band like Texas Hippie Coalition. Melding 70s classic rock with a more 90s metal approach, Horizon is loud, fast, aggressive, and angry!
The album starts off with "Intro", which as everyone who reads this blog knows, is a horrible way to start an album if you want to grab my interest. This is no different, to be honest, as all this intro did was really make me question the recording quality of the album, as the sound quality of this disorganized jam-styled-riffer is decidedly low-fi. Turns out that the recording and the mix are actually excellent, which becomes evident as soon as the intro bleeds into the first real song here, "Celebrate And Kneel". This track comes out with fangs and claws bared as big, thundering drums bring the screaming guitars and Minelli's low-register snarl to bear on the listener. This onslaught continues, especially with high-octane numbers like "Play With Fire", "Riddles", or the slower 70s-Sabbath inspired sludgefest "Bullet Proof Innocence", which is likely my favorite track on this record, bloodying your nose as it bludgeons you with a thick-grooved wallop. Wedged in there is "Black 'N Blue", which uses a modern recording technique at the beginning of the track, applying that hollow-sounding recording style so many bands seem to employ now (you'll know what I'm talking about the second you hear it), but it rights itself to become a bottom-end riffer that has a catchy hook and driving rhythm. The "ballad" of the record, "Caged Emotions", competes for best of the bunch here, also, and is another bottom-heavy rumbler that should have 70s Sabbath fans sitting up to take notice, especially with the truly excellent bass work from Yamamoto so evident here. Minelli at times sounds like he is channeling Chris Cornell in his approach to phrasing, and this is never more evident than on "Caged Emotions".
The surprise of the year for me, so far, Horizon is one of those records that should get massive heavy rock radio attention...and possibly even Grammy-type attention...but it is likely going to fly under the radar of those "in the know" morons who think they know what metal and heavy rock fans want. Trust me, if you want actual old-school metal, soaked in whiskey and filtered through the doomy sludge of the 70s heavy rockers, Owl Company is exactly what you have been searching for. Still not having a solid internet presence that I am aware of, the band can be sought out on Facebook, which may be the best way to order this record. And make no mistake, you NEED to order Horizon.
Rating: A stunner from out of nowhere, crank this to 8.5!