The concept of jazz mixed with metal is no longer a new one thanks to the explosion of the (in)famous sub-genre known as technical metal. However, Distant Horizon‘s Laniakea is one such release where the jazz/fusion influences are strong enough to almost overpower the metal segments completely at times. The calm soothing sounds that adorn almost all songs on the record should be enough of an indication of that fact. Furthermore, this is not a heavy album at all. Sure there are riffs, but the main point of the music here is a wondrous display of variety of different ideas, each of them perfectly flowing into one another in a gorgeous display of musical mastery of these youngsters from Lapua, Finland. One never feels the absence of vocals for even a second as the instruments clearly do all the talking here.
The music will hit a few high ended peaks finally settling on a valley of bass and guitar interplay only to fall into a river/waterfall of soothing and laid-back jazzy licks and grooves. The guitars are simply godlike and sublime in every sense of the word, with even the rhythm guitar in the background providing some amazing riffs and echoing chords further enhancing the trance-like vibe and overall atmosphere of the album in general. The lead guitar playing is brought to a minimum by creating an atmospheric vibe threaded through the tracks. Regardless of any particular song, there’s always something exciting and fresh constantly happening in this album, be it with the bass, guitars, keyboards or drums, which is why it’s almost impossible for me to really pick standouts.
At the end of the day, this is hands down one of the best instrumental albums I have heard this year (although it’s a release from 2017), metal or otherwise. My preference for most other instrumental albums mostly depends on my mood, but this is one album that I can put on at any given time and never be bored of it. Exciting, challenging and varied influences put to superb use making for a cascading wave of musical perfection all the way.