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Horus - Stelle di Battaglia CD (album) cover

STELLE DI BATTAGLIA

Horus

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.06 | 11 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Lost dreams of a band, rescued by the indispensable Mellow Records

Horus is one of those hidden gems that is so obscure it's like the people involved fell off the face of the planet. There is next to no information out there about this group. The material for the album was recorded in Turin at G7 studios in December of 1978 but was never completed. Only two tracks were finished and released as singles. The other tracks were discovered by Mellow (thanks yet again, dear Mauro) years later in demo form and from those six tracks this album was assembled. The album is short at 30 minutes but if you tend to enjoy this kind of spacey-fusion jamming you may well enjoy Horus. They remind me most of the French band Eclat which also mixes spacey rock with instrumental fusion jamming and occasional folk/rock sounds. Horus lacks the sophistication in their recording that Eclat found in recent years but they don't lack the chops. These guys can play and they have some nice melodies here as well. One review I found buried deep in a newsgroup called the sound more like '74-75 than the later '70s, and mentioned Itoiz as a band Horus reminded him of. Other bands that remind me of what Horus is attempting here are Lebisol, the superb Lotus, and my namesake group Finnforest. Again, all three of these bands have made albums quite superior to Horus due to the unfortunate production issues here but it gives you an idea what the goals were.

Expect some soaring and uplifting music right out of the gate from "Respiro" which was one of the two "finished" tracks released in the '70s. It features a mid-paced rhythm with clean (but rockin) lead guitar over distinctly period synths. The guitar playing throughout is economical reminding me of Trettioariga Kriget in places but capable of great emotion and nuance. The synths are well played but sometimes have certain cheesy late '70s cringe factor while other times they sound pretty cool . The synths seem to be playing parts that would mimic what horns would be doing if they were present. Vocals are in Italian and are neither bad nor super, mostly staying out of the way of the band. In the lighter moments like the acoustic "Figlio d't autunno" they step up and deliver an effective, somewhat sorrowful performance. Both the 7 minute "Il Bosco" and the 8 minute closer called "Danzatore Cosmico" really showcase how tragic it is that this album was never properly made - when you listen carefully to the musicians (through the sound problem issues-see last paragraph) there are some moments of thoughtful and spirited interplay. There are great ideas present, changing patterns, chunky bass, squalling screeching guitar build-ups, aggressive drumming.lots of spirit!

OK, now for the bad news. What keeps Horus from being a seriously great album is the production and sound quality. The two finished tracks are pretty decent but the four "demo" tracks leave a lot to be desired. They are not horrible or unlistenable, actually they are relatively good considering their unfinished form. But in places they do become a real challenge to the point where it is difficult to "hear" what the musicians are doing, the mix is hopelessly messed up in places. So there are bad spots but mostly it is passable to anyone with some tolerance for imperfect sound. Is Horus worth your time? Absolutely - if you fall into one of two camps. If you enjoy obscure Italian bands this is one of those groups to get to after the essential titles. Or, if you enjoy "space-fusion" with good melodies built around a synth/guitar partnership you should enjoy this as well. Just realize that it is an imperfect release but one that might reward you if you give it a chance. I certainly enjoy it but of course there are many important bedrock albums to hear before you begin investigating what lies beyond the wings of the Horus crane. I'm rounding up because I liked what these guys were shooting for here but for those outside of the two groups of fans I mention, this is probably a 2-star release.

Finnforest | 3/5 |

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