Review & Full Album Premiere: Drive by Wire, Time Horizon

drive by wire (Photo by Marta Ros)

Netherlands-based heavy rockers Drive by Wire release their fifth album, Time Horizon, this Friday through Argonauta Records. It is their first offering since 2018’s Spellbound, and its eight component cuts breeze smoothly through a range of auralscapes, from the driving fuzz in heavy-but-mellow opener “Northern Lights” to the Doors-y build-up of the nine-minute title-track, with a desert-hued fluidity in “Slowrider,” the shuffle of Ingmar Regeling‘s drums holding together “Shapeshifter,” and the standout hook of “The Hardest Thing” to accompany, and the punkish “Dustfader” to pick up on side B, shove into the spacious and acoustic-inclusive “Black Sails” with backing hums from Peter van Elderen (who also produced) behind Simone Holsbeek‘s softly-delivered lead vocals — fellow guitarist Alwin Wubben backs elsewhere on vocals — seeming to drift but not really drifting compared to the open, progressive and psychedelic feel of the nearly-10-minute “Time Horizon” itself, as Marcel Zerb‘s bass providing a bed to the start-stops of guitar shortly before the halfway point and a never-overblown culmination that feels like a willful departure into improvisation. Finding freedom, but taking its own way to get there at the end of the album proper before the cover of The Smith‘s “How Soon is Now” layers Holsbeek in its own largely-undeniable chorus.

Time Horizon is a little dirtier in tone, a little mellower in the overarching mood than was Spellbound, but the root approach of Drive by Wire has been consistent in honing in on fluidity as a major part of what they do. As they approach 18 years since Holsbeek and Wubben founded the band, it neither is nor should be a surprise for them to know what they’re about in terms of sound, but by no means are the proceedings staid or lacking in rhythmic presence alongside that of the melody in the vocals and guitar. They’ve never been all-out, brash-minded conjurors of heavy riff, though the guitar is central and leads through “Slowrider” and the fuzzy push of “Dustfader,” but while one shouldn’t necessarily expect ferocity from the stalwart outfit as they make their post-pandemic return, their dynamic is about more than which pedal is clicked on at which time.

This, too, is how it should be. Holsbeek‘s crooning delivery, breathier on “Black Sails” and almost pleading in its folkishness drive by wire time horizonatop the crashing semi-plod as “The Hardest Thing” moves into and through its hook en route to the twisting solo that caps until that more stomping progression comes back around, has always been a signature element of Drive by Wire‘s work, and Time Horizon highlights this as part of the atmosphere crafted by the songs. She is commanding in “Dustfader” and practically whispering the contemplations that top the cosmic sprawl of “Time Horizon,” and from the start of “Northern Lights,” her delivery is no less malleable in topping the immediacy there than in working to contrast the instrumental tension cast through the second half of “Shapeshifter.” Right friggin’ on.

And if the first paragraph above didn’t make it clear, it’s the kind of album where you might just put it on intending to casually hear what’s up and end up caught in a gravitational run-on sentence where the flow carries you from beginning to end across what we experience as 42 minutes on earth but surely corresponds to some more complex mathematical breadth in a vacuum. Drive by Wire have always been songwriters — again, they’re not coming back after six years with a revolution in purpose so much as a reaffirmation of and extrapolation on what they’ve done before.

As they evoke visions of molten or otherwise liquefied time — and the unspoken specter of mortality on its horizon — they are accordingly less rigid in the album’s structure, and maybe more comfortable that way as well than they might’ve been in 2020 or 2021, but while they’re making their music dance in new ways, the surety of their exploring derives from the strength of craft at the band’s core and the chemistry displayed so distinctively throughout between Holsbeek, Wubben, Zerb and Regeling. They are not trapped by the parameters of what they imagine their sound to be, but informed and bolstered by an unpretentious awareness of self that comes through organically as a result of their experience. If you find yourself in two places at once — hypnotized by a succession of heavy grooves while your brain actively charts its path through Time Horizon‘s more ethereal aspects via the unfolding series of verses and choruses — I think you’re probably hearing it right, though to be honest I’m not sure there’s a wrong way to go when Drive by Wire make the journey so easy to undertake.

Time Horizon streams in its entirety below, including that Smiths cover at the finish. PR wire info follows the player embedded below.

Please enjoy:

Drive by Wire, Time Horizon (2024) album premiere

The Dutch Desert-rockers of Drive By Wire offer you an intriguing and unique mixture of fuzz-laiden heavy stoner rock grooves accompanied by the trippy, hazy vocals of charismatic front lady Simone Holsbeek.

Simone Holsbeek and lead-guitarist Alwin Wubben founded the band in Deventer (2006) writing songs in their basement for the debut album that immediately grabbed the attention of international press. With Marcel Zerb on bass and Ingmar Regeling behind the drumkit, they are capable of building sonic mountains and psychedelic tapestries of sound.

“Time Horizon” is the bands 5th album and the follow up from the release of the highly acclaimed last album “Spellbound” (2018) that was very well received by both international press and fans.

Soon after that release the Covid pandemic hit the world and the band used the hiatus to work on filmmusic. They got a few songs used in American tv-series such as Batwoman and Riverdale.

Early 2023 the band retreated to a cabin in the middle of the woods. They set up their gear and just started jamming between the trees and under the stars. The result is this wonderful, spontaneous and mesmerizing new album. Very unpolished, raw, pure and with organic vibes.

8 solid songs that take you to a world outside, on a a trip through 70′s hardrock and psychedelica. Drive By Wire manages to distill these inspirations into a warm organic sound full of hypnotic heaviness (Kyuss), and psychedelic echoes of the 70’s (Jefferson Airplane, Heart).

1.Northern Lights
6.Black Sails
7.Time Horizon
8.How soon is now? (The Smiths – cover)

Drive by Wire:
Simone Holsbeek – Vocals/guitar
Alwin Wubben – Lead guitar
Marcel Zerb – Bass guitar
Ingmar Regeling – Drums

[Band photo by Marta Ros.]

Drive by Wire, “Slowrider” official video

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