2023 has turned out to be the year of the surprise albums. Records from new or relatively unknown bands have come out of nowhere to be some of the best albums of the year. And now it’s time to add one more to that ever-growing list. Hailing out of Utah, Advent Horizon has actually been around since 2011, but their last full-length album was 2015’s ‘Stagehound.’ Now, the band returns with ‘A Cell to Call Home’ which sees the band taking a huge step-up from their last album to create one of the more impressive albums of the year.
On top of the top-notch production done courtesy of the band themselves, and cover art by Travis Smith (Opeth), the album boasts a number of notable guests, including Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), Dave Meros (Spock’s Beard, Pattern-Seeking Animals), Randy McStine (McStine and Minnemann, Porcupine Tree), among others. These names alone should make this an intriguing listen.
The album kicks off with “Water,” a perfect opening to this stellar collection of tracks. A rock track that lies somewhere between early 90s Porcupine Tree and Vola, “Water” also shifts about halfway through the song into Haken “Mountain” territory. But it all works together for something that comes off as fresh. “Snow Child” is a piano interlude that segues into another tour de force of a track in “How Did it Get so Good?” The first half of the song sounds like the most gorgeous tribute to IQ, but then at the midway point, the song kicks into a dirty powerful metal groove and becomes something totally different.
“Your Flaws” is one of the year’s best ballads with gorgeous vocals from guest vocalist Kristen McDonald who also sings on the subsequent track “Truth.” “Calling it Off” is a strong metal track with an unmistakable synth solo from Rudess. It fits so perfectly and you immediately know who it is without reading the liner notes.
At this point, the album takes a few more strange turns but in the best way. “Control” is one of my favorites on the album. It begins with a subtle and bluesy electric piano riff with singer Rylee McDonald adding his clear vocals over top. The middle with multiple vocals harmonies that lead right into an amazing sax solo is one of the year’s standout moments. Meanwhile, “Maybe” is a wonderful short ballad that allows the listener to take a quick breath just before the big epic title track.
“Cell to Come Home” is 10 minutes of prog epicness that hits all the marks, from the powerful opening riff to uplifting chorus and then the brilliant guitar breakdown in the middle before the final chorus. The album closes on the acoustic-led ballad “Hold Me,” a wonderful way to close things out.
“A Cell to Call Home” is a brilliant showcase of great melodies, solid song construction, and production, all coming together to make something special. Make sure to check this one out, and then use your cell to call and tell people about it! It will certainly find a way to the top of many Best of 2023 album lists.
Released on Oct. 6th, 2023
2.Snow Child 01:09
3.How Did It Get So Good? 07:14
4.Rain On Open Water 04:43
5.Your Flaws 03:48
7.Calling It Off 05:45
10.Cell To Call Home 10:14
11.Hold Me 06:19
Rylee McDonald – Vocals, Guitars, Keys
Mike Lofgreen – Drums and Percussion
Cason Wood – Bass, Keys, Trombone
Grant Matheson – Guitar, Keys, Vocals