KENZINER – The Last Horizon (2020 reissue) *EXCLUSIVE*
Now signed by Pure Steel Records for their new album, the label is also reissuing KENZINER‘s ”The Last Horizon”, perhaps their best album, with new artwork and better mastering.
Kenziner is a band with a recognizable European sound fluctuating between melodic metal with a neo-classical touch and a strong progressive metal influences. Think Axel Rudi Pell, Yngwie, Timo Tolkki’s Avalon and Brazen Abbot, but their compositions feature a very interesting, innovating edge and flourished arrangements all played with a real clean sound and melody as a rule.
Kenziner was founded in the mid ’90s by Finnish guitarist Jarno Keskinen releasing two solid albums with the help of famous American axeman and producer David T. Chastain (CJSS) who offered Jarno a record deal and contributed into the songwriting and even asked his old good friends and colleagues to play in Kenziner as session musicians.
However Jarno suddenly hibernated Kenziner for many years. He founded a new band Virtuocity but that was short lived affair and then decided to withdraw from active work on music for almost ten years.
With “The Last Horizon” returned into action with a fresh line-up – all from Finland. the vocalist for this album was a guy named Markku Kuikka who reminds me of Graham Bonnet but it is slightly higher and cleaner.
Jarno improved his skills on guitar delivering fast and technical guitar passages in the best tradition of Yngwie and Vinnie Moore, but his solos are quite short at the service of the songs and add fresh, spicy elements to the music.
The album opens “Run For Your Life”, an uptempo straightforward heavy rocker with some mid-Eastern touches. I like it because it is different from usual Kenziner’s songs. The next “Our Times” presents more traditional Kenziner sound with strong symphonic and neoclassical elements. Some moments remind me of Royal Hunt, it has some faster parts, some baroque motives and a shredding solo.
Despite really fast beginning, the song “Heroes Ride” is not so blistering, going for the most part for a groovy mid-tempo. “Devour the World” is melodic and meaty, and a dark piano themes throughout the song add points to it.
“End of an Era” is driven by a half-oriental neoclassical line, with a progressive middle part, rhythmical changes and a main keyboard theme that is really interesting.
More Hard Rock elements could be heard in “Keep the Flame Alive”, one of the highlights on the album with a traditional British sound, a melodic bluesy feel, a great chorus and essential sustained solo.
“I Am Eternal” has heavier riffings, but it is not fast. Once again I hear some Royal Hunt elements especially in driven pre-chorus parts. “No Turning Back” is a harpsichord-driven fast metallic song in Malmsteen manner. It is impressive and awesome; I could highlight bright pre-chorus and outstanding neoclassical guitar part which turning into guitar-keyboard shred duel.
The title track “The Last Horizon” it is the most progressive song on the record, well structured and developed, and the disc ends with the powerful and effective ballad “Perfect Moments” ala Axel Rudi Pell.
Mixed by Nino Laurenne (Thunderstone) at Sonic Pump Studios, the production work on “The Last Horizon” is another high-end factor for a crisp dynamic sound in perfect concordance with the impressive songwriting and performances on Kenziner’s new CD.
Of course the team of players is a highly skilled bunch of musicians, with a constant high level instrumentation and hyper tight delivery. The overall balance on this ‘new’ Kenziner is much more melodic than before, more ‘commercial’ I’d say.
“The Last Horizon” it’s not only recommended for fans of the aforementioned bands, but also traditional hard rock enthusiasts as well.
Strong and Rocking stuff
01 – Run For Your Life
02 – Our Times
03 – Heroes Ride
04 – Devour The World
05 – End Of An Era
06 – Keep The Flame Alive
07 – I Am Eternal
08 – No Turning Back
09 – The Last Horizon
10 – Perfect Moment
Markku Kuikka – Vocals
Jarno Keskinen – Guitars
Jukka Karinen – Keyboards
Jupi Hjelt – Bass
Make Lievonen – Drums