I view it as part of our mission at True Metal Lives to shine a light on underappreciated new or recent releases that you might have overlooked. We are fortunate to be living in an age of abundant high-quality new metal music, but the byproduct of this embarrassment of riches is that no one can listen to everything. Stuff – even really good stuff – falls through the cracks. I fear this may have happened to Horacle’s outstanding debut full-length album, ‘Dead Eyes Revelations,’ which came out a few months ago. There are lots of theories as to why that might be. Being Belgian, Horacle perhaps faces an uphill battle convincing European metal audiences. The band having gone the independent route, ‘Dead Eyes Revelations’ perhaps hasn’t received the kind of promotional push it deserves. Then there’s the potential for genre confusion: Band logo and cover art suggest extreme metal, and I keep seeing references to Horacle as being thrash or speed metal, when (in my view at least) none of these tags are even remotely accurate. Whatever the reason for the oversight, I’m here to persuade you that ‘Dead Eyes Revelations’ deserves a place in your CD collection, digital playlist, etc.
Do you like ‘Number of the Beast’-era Iron Maiden? What about New Wave of British Heavy Metal titans like Diamond Head and Jaguar (and Belgian variants such as the mighty Ostrogoth)? Does U.S. power metal like Liege Lord, Sanctuary or Lizzy Borden float your boat? If you answered “yes” to all three questions (if you didn’t, you might have surfed to the wrong website), then you owe it to yourself to check out Horacle. On ‘Dead Eyes Revelations,’ the band begins with a sturdy foundation of early Bruce-era Maiden (vocally and musically), layers on some classic NWOBHM and ‘80s USPM influences, slips in just a pinch of Keeper-era Helloween, and then adds their own slightly sinister/dark twist to the recipe, wrapping the whole package in a suitably rough-edged but still powerful production. It all works splendidly. Sure, you can criticize Horacle if you want for not having a completely original sound, but this is traditional metal we’re talking about here. This style isn’t about innovation, it’s about channeling those classic influences, writing inspired songs, and playing your ass off. And that’s exactly what Horacle does on ‘Dead Eyes Revelations.’ You should also know that this is a sophisticated album. No, I’m not talking about self-indulgent malarkey like the latest hot mess from Dream Theater. What I mean is that the songs on ‘Dead Eyes Revelations’ aren’t simple anthems that you’ll have mastered on the first listen. There’s some real substance here, so the tunes reveal their strengths incrementally, making for immensely rewarding replay value.
There are a great many things that Horacle does well. Guitarists Alexey and Dyno C. Itt have a tremendous collection of killer riffs and leads, such that the album can be enjoyed solely on the basis of the outstanding guitars. Vocalist Terry Fire is shaky in spots, but overall does a fine job in the mold of early Dickinson. Songwise, the obvious highlight is “No Resistance,” a monster track and legitimate song of the year candidate. “Signs of the Beast” is a pure Iron Maiden rush from beginning to end. There’s a six-minute instrumental, “Passage to Eternity,” that’s simply magnificent. The nearly 12-minute “Awakening of a Crimson Shelter” is as ambitious as it is effective, with a lengthy mellow instrumental section that gradually builds to a ferocious finish. I’d better stop now, but suffice it to say the entire 9-track, 48-minute album (including one very short intro) is excellent. What are you waiting for? ‘Dead Eyes Revelations’ should be mandatory listening. Physical copies are available from the band for a reasonable price, so check it out at www.horacle-merchandising.be.
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~