Secret Chiefs 3 - Book Of Horizons
I cannot remember how it was I came across Secret Chiefs 3, but I do believe it had something to do with me being a fan of Mr. Bungle and following up on what Trey Spruance (Bungle and Faith no More guitarist) was doing. It wasn't until this, their 3rd full-length release that I discovered the band, and I like to think I came in at the exact right moment. Book of Horizons is exactly that, a novel-sized slab of music that varies in influence from one song to the next in ways that so few bands could ever hope to pull off, while staying firmly grounded on an original conceptual idea and allowing that to guide the music. Middle eastern themes, worldly instrumentation, surf-rock guitar, varied compositions by various members of the Chiefs along with some outside writing and most of all, a willingness to be both an original article and an inspiring one. Book Of Horizons is truly one fo the most varied and interesting albums I've ever heard.
From the melodramatic, cinematic climes of tracks like opener "The End Times" to the middle-eastern groove and pulse of "The 4", the first two tracks offer so much variety in themselves that each one to follow seems to get more and more away from whatever original idea the band had for a theme. Maybe this is because the band is more a loose collective of somewhere around a dozen musicians, all of whom have some say in the direction of these songs. At certain moments, the Chiefs sound like a Dick Dale cover outfit with a traditionalist middle eastern backing band in tow, at others they sound like Ennio Morricone worshippers. On a couple of tracks, they even explore the viciousness of extreme metal! These tracks are accredited to "Holy Vehm" and his darkened influence is much appreciated by me. However, the highlights, where Secret Chiefs 3 really shine, are the cinematic moments of epic peaks and rich valleys: "The Exile" is my favorite track. It sounds like it would fit in the best western film you've ever seen, as the hero rides off into the horizon after having saved the people behind him but is easily confused as a villain for his low tolerance and itchy trigger finger. At least that's my imagery; the band is going for something much deeper here, as the album is taken in context with their past works to come together in some grand overlapping theme I am not so knowledgable about but can appreciate nonetheless.
I can imagine thousands of music fans having never heard of Secret Chiefs 3 and being severely cheated in the process. You can't pin this band down to any genre, but you could call them a world or tribal sort of band in that the foundation of their sound always seems to be something foreign or mystical, like a band who's travelled the world in a hope to collect every bit of influence they can to form it into one massive beast. And they pull it all off with skill, practiced grace and unbelievable musicianship that'll leave your jaw hanging. Book Of Horizons is an album that begs for your attention by the merits of it's own quality songs and by no other means, an album that is both totally unique and totally enjoyable. You absolutely need to hear this at some point in your life, as it shows an appreciation for music that goes beyond what most bands would even consider in their sphere of influences or their range of abilities.
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