Written by Westin
Flight – Echoes of Journeys Past
> ’70s rock/proto-metal
> Releases July 28
> Dying Victims Productions
As you can regularly hear me argue on Twitter, I firmly believe that the best time for music is now – there’s no need to hold onto the nostalgia for the rose-tinted glory years of bygone eras. But if we frame the discussion around historical importance, nothing in my mind can top the 1970s. Public arts funding and education were at a peak, and a whole wealth of new creative ideas found footing in ways no one was ready for. Funk, disco, punk, metal, prog, hip-hop, electronic music and more all took their first steps during the ’70s – genres that continue to evolve and shape the music that is made and listened to today in countless ways. One such style that is experiencing a small revival is the rock sound of that era, and Flight have masterfully captured the spirit of that snapshot of time.
Formed in Oslo in 2012, Flight released their self-titled debut in 2015, a follow up in 2018 after getting picked up by High Roller Records, and now Echoes of Journeys Past through Dying Victims Productions, one of the leading purveyors of retro throwback. Flight are part of a seemingly endless wave of new Scandinavian throwback rock bands that have created their own scene over the past decade, seeking an homage to a decade that inspired such a wide variety of sounds and ideas in art. This growing movement is so strong in commitment that very famously Opeth, by many once considered among the best death metal bands of all time, have completely abandoned that sound in favour of Mikael Akerfeldt’s love of 1970s progressive rock. If you’re a fan of the contemporary sound of Opeth, or the classic and original sound of bands like Blue Oyster Cult, Rainbow, or Rush, then this new Flight LP is the record for you.
I don’t think the term “70s rock” can really properly be defined as a genre, but I use it to describe Flight because their sound is such an encompassing love letter to the emotional soundscape of the decade. Blending elements of prog rock, hard rock, and proto-metal in a way that feels completely authentic to the time but also incredibly organic and original, Echoes of Journeys Past could credibly be confused with being a long forgotten gem buried for 50 years in the back of a Norwegian record shop. Vocalist Christoffer Bråthen’s voice is like a soothing northern breeze, gently calling out from the heavens to tell tales of space, time and magic. The band has a lyrical approach to fantasy that emits an aura of pulp and myth intertwined – if Flight had actually been a band back in 1978 I can absolutely guarantee you they would have inspired at least one person to spraypaint a wizard on their van.
Bråthen is also the band’s guitarist and synth programmer, and his playing clearly draws from an incredible wellspring of inspiration. His guitar tone is incredibly clean and sleek, brightly singing alongside his actual vocal delivery, delivering tasty licks between chorus refrains, or dancing in the cosmic reaches of a world just beyond our fingertips. The synths are even brighter and stand out as pinpricks of light like distant stars in the black emptiness. Every instrument is given an incredible amount of space, and that is in part thanks to the relative simplicity of the bands lineup – Bråthen on vox, guitar, and synth, with Jonas Bye on bass alongside drummer Herman Holen.
The title track is arguably the strongest on the record and my personal favourite – it is dynamic as hell, full of rockin’ groove that just won’t stop pulsing and moving. But the chorus is a standout, shining like golden honey in the sun, so sweet and I can’t get enough of it before it dives into an incredibly soulful and tasty guitar solo. The track is genuinely addicting and fresh as a summer breeze. The other standout is album closer “Mystic Mountain” – led in by instrumental interlude “Moondance”, “Mystic Mountain” is an appropriately epic 10-minute suite split into four parts. What could get more prog than a four part closer stuffed into one track? It certainly feels like an epic journey, wandering and drifting across an entire adventure of rock that ascends to a powerful climax to seal the scant 36 minutes of the record.
The layers on Echoes of Journeys Past are simple. With only one guitar and barely any overdrive or distortion, it never feels too busy or overwhelming – you can feel the groove of the bass and pop of the drums beneath the rest of the performances. This is key to Flight’s success in not only recapturing the sounds of the past, but also making their own music and original and highly effective compositional skills feel fully fleshed out. Being able to easily absorb and appreciate the drum fills, guitar licks or the general craft of the songs makes them feel incredibly strong as both art but also sticky tracks, the songs are simply endearing. The guitar solos are scorching hot when they come, surrounded by a revving intensity from the rest of the sound to emphasize the power this band has hidden betwixt their swords and potions.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Flight are unashamedly proud of their worship of one of the greatest decades in music history, but it doesn’t stop them from pushing their own sound into new and interesting places. While they do have one eye on the past, their interest in the future of has created some of the most dynamic rock music you’ll hear this side of the century.