Event Horizon X - Far across the wasteland 3/5

Reviewed: 2-17-06


1. Far across the wasteland
2. The gate
3. Volunteer
4. Destruction is imminent
5. Sailing away
6. Leaving behind
7. Back to earth
8. Self destruct sequence

A couple of years ago, Matt Smith shook up the underground power metal world with his one-man studio project, Theocracy. Like many others, I marveled at his skill, tenacity and sheer force of will to handle every aspect of the creative, musical and production aspects of the CD himself, with the final results being remarkably competitive with releases by his contemporary power metal brethren. Now Michael Rinakakis of the Greek isle of Crete, operating under the moniker Event Horizon X, has unveiled his 3rd solo labor of love. Much like Smith, Rinakakis wears many hats for his band: creative visionary, cover artist, layout designer, songwriter, producer, engineer, singer, guitarist, bassist, and drummer (although this last role sounds more like "drum programmer" given the electronic drum kit he used to record his fairly rudimentary patterns and beats). The steadfast determination required for such ambitious multi-tasking is laudable and most worthy of respect.

Despite their single-creator parallels, Event Horizon X offer up a more muscular power metal landscape than the lighter, brighter Edguyisms of Theocracy. Relevant comparators would be acts like older Blind Guardian, Running Wild, Seventh Avenue, and, for a more obscure reference, early Custard. Rinakakis's stock in trade is short, punchy, often uptempo guitar-driven anthems with catchy choruses, crunchy blistering riffs and interesting melodic guitar work, including Weikath/Hansen-inspired harmonies, clever themes and the occasional acoustic foray. Vocally, Rinakakis alternates between a high-pitched screech that is surprisingly effective (a bit like the late David Wayne at his highest register in Reverend) and a lower, throatier delivery that reminds of Michael Marquardt, former co-lead vocalist of Custard. The songwriting is uniformly good, with a couple of tracks ("Sailing away" and "Far across the wasteland") being nothing short of outstanding. Just to add another layer of complexity to the mix, 'Far across the wasteland' is an Iron Savior-ish concept album involving intergalactic space travel and a planet called Archon. All in all, this is enjoyable, professional, well done stuff that should receive a warm reception from devotees of the more Teutonic and true end of the Europower spectrum.

Without diminishing my admiration for Rinakakis's efforts, there is room for improvement in several areas. For starters, the band name may be misleading to its intended audience. A name like Event Horizon X conjures up images of a progressive act (see Event, Horizon, Eternity X, Symphony X, etc.), which couldn't be further from the truth. And a skimpy 31-minute running time (padded by 2 non-essential instrumentals) simply may not be enough to justify tracking down and shelling out import prices for a hard-to-find independently released CD. In fairness, I understand from interviews that Rinakakis keeps his CDs concise by design, as a way of emphasizing quality over quantity. I certainly concur that too many bands today release 14 song CDs that only have 9 worthy tracks, and that there is no filler on 'Far across the wasteland'. That said, this CD just feels too short, like it's over before it begins and like it's somehow an incomplete piece of work. Surely an extra 10 minutes or so of grade A material could have been added without compromising Rinakakis's rigorous quality control standards. Finally, notwithstanding the fact that Rinakakis has done a fine job in all departments, I believe this CD could have been better had it not been an exclusively solitary endeavor. From a compositional standpoint, having an extra pair of ears to evaluate and augment the material could only improve the final outcome. In terms of musicians, a proper drummer and some additional voices to beef up the choirs would have been most welcome too. Still, 'Far across the wasteland' is a rewarding, solid listen, and I eagerly await Rinakakis's next opus.




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