Pulling another disc off the stack of recent reissues of Music for Nations’ back catalog, Lost Horizon’s debut album, Awakening the World (originally released in 2001) is a ten song blast of bombastic Swedish power metal. With the shirtless, sword-and-sorcery cover shot, it is hard not to make immediate comparisons to Manowar, which is a valid reference point, but Lost Horizon also incorporate elements of the American power metal scene into their music.
Where the band breaks from the power metal stereotype of dragons and wizards is that they cite the disc as “breed[ing] a spiritual aspiration, which leads to the great gathering…we want the people to start thinking about the world and themselves”. The band members are credited as Transcendental Protagonist (guitars and synths), Cosmic Antagonist (bass), Preternatural Transmogrifyer (drums) and Ethereal Magnanimus (vocals); “spiritual titles that reflect characteristics in the band member’s personalities”.
While Lost Horizon doesn’t break any new ground on this disc – it is surprisingly strong for being the band’s debut. The reason for this is that the members of Lost Horizon had played together as Highlander (the same band spawned HammerFall) and, accordingly to drummer Christian Nyqvist , “the first album songs were composed a very long time ago, they were written between 1991 and 1994, I think. They (the old songs) even have new lyrics, arrangements… so there are almost ten years between the composition of the album and the release of it.”
This is the sort of disc that would have been huge in the US given the right promotion as the band’s brand of proggy power metal along with vocalist Daniel Heiman’s controlled but soaring vocals will be immediately recognizable to fans of bands that range from Dream Theater to Iron Maiden without them ever having to have heard this album prior. There are seven songs on the disc (along with three brief instrumentals) and all of them feature an Iron Maiden style galloping bass and guitar riffs, breakneck drumming and clean, soaring guitar leads. Principal songwriter / guitarist Wojtek Lisicki adds restrained keyboards to some of the tracks which gives additional depth to the band’s sound, without overpowering it. Given the depth of musicianship, songs like “Denial of Fate” and “Sworn of the Metal Wind“ could easily have become power metal anthems. Most of the songs "burn hot" and run just over five minutes but the album closer (ignoring the instrumental outro “The Redintegration”) “The Kingdom of My Will” drags in parts as it runs 9+ minutes.
In an interview with Metal Reviews, Lost Horizon said “You've probably noticed that the songs [on Awakening the World] are in a specific order, there's no coincidence, we've thought about the way we'll place them, because we have a defined pattern in our minds, so that people listen to our album from the beginning to the end as opposite of some records when people play the tracks randomly. We really wanted to be more like an experience, like a theater experience, you sit down on a comfortable chair and get great impulses from the record. “