Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Album Review: Eliminator 'Last Horizon'

I first encountered Lancaster’s Eliminator supporting Satan at Camden Town’s Purple Turtle (now closed) in October 2011. I left the show impressed with their energy and ear for a catchy riff, and with a copy of the then-recently released We Rule The Night EP in hand. Fast-forward seven years and three changes in frontman, and the north-western warriors have at long last graced us with a full-length album. It was worth the wait.

Last Horizon starts out strong with '2019'; a spot of high energy riffage underpinning some topical musing on man’s relationship with technology that launches the listener straight into the broader “feel” of the album: No ominous, quiet intro or buildup at the start of this number – it’s fretboard acrobatics and plenty of “whoah”s and “yeah”s from the off. New vocalist Danny Foster brings considerable flair to this recording, and the vocal delivery soars as much as the guitar leads. Look for the promo video doing the rounds for a fun display of “Blade Runner but in northern England”. Continuing in the sci-fi vein established with '2019' and pushed in the overall presentation of the album we have the title track, 'The Last Horizon': To this listener, one of three major highlights of the release. An engaging intro section gives way to grand, powerful vocal melodies over some cracking riff-work in the chorus section and some interesting use of dynamics and melody alternating with the quieter verses. Guitarists Jack MacMichael and Matthew Thomas deserve commendation for delivering some tasteful dual lead work in the middle section here.

The album’s pace drops slightly with the first of its four “epics”, 'Echoes'. This boasts a lovely repeating melodic motif and the faster section towards the end contains some impressive shredding. A solid song, though I wonder about its placement on the album and whether something shorter and more “immediate” might have preceded it. Either way, this song is quickly outshone by the second “epic” and my second album highlight: 'Procession of Witches'. Space and technology have been left behind as lyrical themes by this point, in favour of a tale of mystic communion with dark, elemental powers. After an intro with some fancy double lead and nice-if-brief solo basswork spots by Jamie Brandon, the initial movement of 'Procession' goes fast with a catchy melodic riff carrying it all along, with a drop of pace in the middle section. Here, drummer Dave Steen focuses his energy on floor toms in a section evoking ritualistic percussion, which builds tension with restrained guitar chords and vocals before taking us into a closing instrumental section and verse reprise, which can be aptly described as “well tasty”. I’m left in the mood for something more quick and direct following this and Eliminator supply just that, with my third album highlight 'Edge of A Dream'. The main riff might boast the catchiest melody in the whole album, and some interesting choices of vocal melody (memorable and pleasing to the ear without being “obvious”) rub up against some seriously powerful riffs and a flash lead section toward the end. This is a masterclass in simple, effective heavy metal song writing.

The album’s home stretch begins with the third “epic” 'Fall Of The Seer'. This moves at a stately pace and concludes the tale of 2012’s The Seer single with a story of a mad, decrepit clairvoyant foreseeing his own doom. Thematic reminders of Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son of A Seventh Son are in evidence here, and Foster demonstrates some serious low-end vocal tone in addition to his impressive falsetto. 'Pride and Ruin' follows, and presents us with one last burst of quick, concise heavy metal (heralded by an opening riff that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a Slough Feg release) before the final “epic” and album closer, 'Spoils of an Empire'. This is a worthy note for the album to end on, the lead section heralded by a falsetto scream at the 3:45 mark being a highlight.

I’m happy to report my excitement for this album was rewarded. We’ve a selection of powerful, memorable songs delivered with panache and a sound production job that doesn’t sound sterile or low-tech-for-its-own-sake. Eliminator have already announced a few dates around the UK to promote this album. Do yourself a favour and get yourself along to one if you can. Last Horizon confirms it: These gents represent the best that British heavy metal has to offer. A must-have.

Score: 4.5/5

Last Horizon is available on CD from 23/03/18 or Vinyl from 18/05/18 via Plastic Head.

Album release party:  24th March @ The Star & Garter, Manchester.  Support from Seven Sisters, Ascalon and Heavy Sentence.  Details here.

Other dates:

20/04/18: The Dev, Camden (more info)
25/05/18: British Steel 2, The Underworld, Camden (more info)

Keep up to date with Eliminator news via their facebook page.

Writer: Craig Stewart

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