My mother always used to tell me that you can't judge a person by his or her looks. The same can be said for album covers. Four shirtless guys from Sweden – all wearing war paint, two wearing cloaks and one wielding a scepter – appear on the front of Lost Horizon's Awakening the World, surrounded in a glorious cloud overlooking a bizarre landscape littered with humans sprouting animal heads. The back insert features an image of the fearless metal warriors holding large chains leashed to the human animals underneath song titles like "Sworn in the Metal Wind," "World Through My Fateless Eyes" and "The Kingdom of My Will." And when I opened up the CD booklet to find the names of these four men revealed as Transcendental Protagonist (guitars and synths), Cosmic Antagonist (bass), Preternatural Transmogrifyer (drums) and Ethereal Magnanimus (vocals), I almost wrote Lost Horizon off as another Manowar wannabe. Boy, was I wrong.
The press release that accompanies Awakening the World states that the album is a "sacred call, that final cry," which "breeds a spiritual aspiration, which leads to the great gathering" and calls the album a "great manifestation for the world." I have no idea what that means, but I do know that this is an over-the-top power-metal album chock-full of rapturous melodies, challenging lyrics and enough testosterone to put Manowar out of business. And it's not nearly as cheesy as you might think after taking a look at the album's packaging. (Incidentally, it's worth noting that Lost Horizon's first incarnation was as Highlander, which featured Joacim Cans on vocals and guitarist Stefan Elmgren, who currently are both in Hammerfall.)
Lost Horizon pepper the huge intensity of songs like "Perfect Warrior" and "Denial of Fate" with brief, effects-laden instrumentals like opening track "The Quickening," "The Song of Air" and closing track "The Redintegration." The closest these guys come to a ballad is "Welcome Back," which begins with dominant and moody keyboards but evolves into a galloping rocker that showcases the breadth of this band. Granted, Magnanimus' voice isn't the most captivating in all of power-metal land, but taken as a whole, Lost Horizon offer a dash of hope for a genre that's quickly becoming stale.