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Just a guy trying to sing and play the flute - 5%

Derigin, December 19th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2014, Digital, Independent (Bandcamp)

Before I get into any detail about this album, and what makes it good or bad, it needs to be said: this isn't metal. If you're looking for a metal album, just stop right there. In fact, if you're looking for a folk rock album, or a neofolk album, or even just anything of any musical value at all, don't bother. All that Fires on the Horizon is, is a guy interchangeably playing a celtic flute (or more accurately, an Irish whistle) and trying to sing, cleanly, as best as he can for two short tracks. Which in both cases isn't saying much, because he's not very good.

And yeah, "interchangeably." Both tracks follow the same formula: flute playing without vocals, then singing to (near) complete silence, flute playing without vocals again, and more singing to (near) complete silence. Only towards the end of "Fires on the Horizon" do you get some semblance of traditional drumming, or something... akin... to... it. I don't even know. It sounded pretty tagged on and out of the blue, and forgettable.

Now, I don't mean to say any of this to be mean. To his credit, the flute playing that starts "A Hand Outstretched to the Sea" is perfectly fine. It's not awkwardly mixed in with other instruments, or any vocals, and has a pleasant echo to it. This goes on for a good minute, and frankly is probably the only good minute of this EP. That's why this review isn't a total zero. It's not totally an irredeemable piece of garbage.

I can't say that for the rest of the album, though. After that first minute, the flute playing (or whistling) goes completely downhill, and the vocals - from the very moment they are introduced in the first track - are just awful, cringeworthy and sad. They might even be slightly autotuned.

The vocalist can carry a tune, but he cannot sing. It's not that he's tone deaf, it's just that he sounds like every 'average joe' that tries to sing but hasn't practiced or been taught to sing (which is funny considering his musical background in other, better known bands). Being an amateur singer is not necessarily a bad thing, but in his case he has no range or depth to his voice. His vocals are monotone, and his voice almost cracks every time he tries to reach for higher notes. To make matters worse, the same holds true every time the flutist tries to reach higher notes. Every time they fall flat, or the note is later mixed so strangely that it almost sounds like a train whistle. The same note just goes on and on and on. And then, for some reason, in "Fires on the Horizon" he decided to take this terrible elongated train whistle sound and mix it in with his vocals. So not only can he not sing well, but he can't play the flute at high notes well, and in post-production he thought it was a good idea to combine those two things together?!? I'm just speechless.