Adventure, a prog band from Trondheim, Norway, recently released their fourth album, New Horizon, on Apollon Records and sub-label Artemis Prog Records. Adventure was founded in 1995 by guitarist Terje Flessen and keyboardist Odd-Roar Bakken, while singer/keyboardist Elen Cath Hopen and bassist/singer/producer Terje Craig became permanent members during the recording of 2014’s Caught in the Web. Drummer Alf Helge Lund joined the band in the fall of 2014 and singer Kjell Myran in September 2015.
Writing and recording of this new album began at the end of 2015 and was completed in March 2018, mixed by Terje Craig in Craigtones studio and mastered by Jacob Holm-Lupo (White Willow). The album contains contributions from two guests; Atmasukha Ananda was able to free up some time for the recording of three songs in the middle of his hectic schedule as a classical pianist, and flautist Kine Wallum makes a contribution on three songs, plus one of the bonus tracks. Kine is a daughter of the legendary Prudence frontman Per Erik (Prikken) Wallum who died of cancer in 1990, at the age of forty.
I have recently received a huge selection of Scandinavian, and in particular Norwegian, prog rock. Certainly not in all cases the label truly applies, so I am somewhat wary. But in this case I don’t really need to worry.
Opening song Slow Fanfare is a simple, almost childish tune of just a little more than two minutes. It acts as a prelude to Destiny, which is quite a change of pace. This song reminds me of Rainbow from the Difficult to Cure and/or Straight Between the Eyes period of the early Eighties, especially due to the vocals and the Hammond organ, and last but not least the melodic guitar solo at the end. With more than seven minutes, Horizon Suite is one of the longer tracks, it’s certainly not a bad song, somewhat melancholic in nature, and I keep thinking “where did I hear this before?” The most symphonic song to date, with many keyboards and serious-sounding vocals in a slow-paced song which suddenly takes on a very different, darker character at the end.
Again, this comparison with Ritchie Blackmore’s brainchild from the late 1970s comes to mind; Eirene (Goddess of Peace) would also have fitted in well with the former guitar hero’s later work with Blackmore’s Night, in terms of theme, with feature roles for organ and guitar while the choirs (“oh, ah”) give the song a certain commercial value. You Belong, on the other hand, sounds a lot softer, the semi-acoustic intro certainly contributing to that. Another ultra-short instrumental interlude, With Tears in Their Eyes starts with acoustic guitar and the fragile flute of Kine Wallum, after which Terje Flessen’s electric guitar takes over. Very tastefully done. The longest song at almost nine minutes, Lighthouse is almost a continuation of the previous song, both in style and instrumentation. The mood changes halfway and there is a bit more zest in the tempo, especially in Flessen’s guitar solos. The latter also applies to the melodic contributions on Mellotron and other vintage keyboard from Odd-Roar Bakken. The music is well worth your while, especially when the duo is competing with each other.
Here to Stay is another typical straightforward rocker, with this time, very surprisingly, female lead vocals by Elen Cath Hopen. Lots of variety, on Nothing Will Change the voice of singer Kjell Myran comes dangerously close to ex-Spandau Ballet singer Tony Hadley, mainly due to the exaggerated diction and pathos put into the song. In Search Of (A New Life), on the other hand, once again we have prog, undeniably, both the complex time signatures and the IQ-like keyboards contributing to this, with vocals shared by Myran and Cath Hopen, which means that the comparison with Mostly Autumn automatically presents itself. Catchy chorus.
The penultimate song, For The Fallen, is the last in the “under two minutes” category. Spoken lyrics over a classical piano, guest Atmasukha Ananda responsible for the latter. Military snare drums bring the shortest song on the album to an end before Refugees, a slow dragging prog song with strong references to the aforementioned bands. Melodic in nature, recognisable seventies/eighties instrumentation, complete with flute and Hammond organ.
The voice of Kjell Myran will undoubtedly divide listeners – nothing new in the world of progressive rock music. But in general, the musicians have listened carefully to the classic bands that shaped the genre. On top of that, there is some great music being played, in particular by guitarist and keyboardist, so there’s little to complain about.
Certainly not a bad album by these men and women from the far North. The pace may be a little higher here and there and the music could use a bit more spirit, but it’s a must for fans of retro classic (hard) rock in the style of Deep Purple, Uriah Heep and specifically Rainbow, with symphonic tones and a strong late-seventies sound. At a total playtime of almost sixty minutes it’s reasonable in length. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the lyrics at my disposal, but they seem to balance between hope and fear. The same applies somewhat to the music, for the time being, hope seems to prevail.
01. Slow Fanfare (2:06)
02. Destiny (4:30)
03. Horizon Suite (7:18)
04. Eirene (Goddess of Peace) (6:11)
05. You Belong (4:32)
06. With Tears in Their Eyes (1:59)
07. Lighthouse (8:57)
08. Here to Stay (3:31)
09. Nothing Will Change (3:10)
10. In Search Of (A New Life) (5:06)
11. For The Fallen (1:50)
12. Refugees (6:44)
Total Time – 55:54
Odd-Roar Bakken – Keyboards
Terje Flessen – Electric & Acoustic Guitars
Terje Craig – Bass, Vocals
Alf-Helge Lund – Drums, Percussion
Elen Cath Hopen – Lead & Backing Vocals, Keyboards
Kjell Myran – Lead Vocals
Atmasukha Ananda – Piano
Kine Wallum – Flute
Record Label: Apollon Records
Country of Origin: Norway
Date of Release: 25th January 2019
– Adventure (2000)
– Beacon Of Light (2007)
– Caught In The Web (2014)
– New Horizon (2019)