Trying to categorise Cologne’s Second Horizon into a neat and tidy genre for the purposes of giving the band a home would do Albdruck, the band’s debut album, a total disservice. It would also prove to be nigh on the impossible, as this quartet incorporates a plethora of musical influences which touch upon various sonic signifiers, including doom, sludge, black metal, psychedelia, space rock, progressive/groove metal, post-rock, to create, what is ultimately an expansive metal record.
Fully instrumental, Albdruck isn’t welcoming by any stretch of the imagination, as its cross-colonisation of genres would suggest. It doesn’t speak upon first listen, and in order to admire the scope of this record, attentiveness is crucial to the listener’s understanding. Beginning with an over one minute intro “Zucht,” Second Horizon separate those who enjoy metal for its immediacy from those who are willing to sacrifice their time for a slow-burning, but no less satisfying, reward.
Sonically, “Marter” hauls slabs of atmospheric doom across the razor-sharp progressive metal, and does so without jarring the two dominating genres together. “Repression” is the longest piece on the album that really pounds you into sumbission. There is also an interesting contrast at play here between the austere atmosphere created by these suffocating songs when compared to the more straightforward “Panoptikon” and “Denunziation.” The inclusion of these two songs in the overall dynamic sequencing of Albdruck increases the cinematic value of the album.
“Wille our Macht, Lust/Schmerz,” which finishes the album, happens to be just as engaging as its preceding pieces: a short encapsulation of each of the ideas explored during the songs that preceded it, with the inclusion of ambient flashes. Each song on Albdruck moves into the next to establish a sense of completeness.
Overall, this is an album that shows a huge potential and talent of Second Horizon. I’m waiting eagerly to hear what they come up next with.