The ESP Horizon series has proved an enduring victory for guitar design.
Introduced in 1986, it has aged well. That dagger-shaped headstock casts an instantly recognisable silhouette, with a level of threat, too.
Yet the NT-II is clearly reaching for the gentrified shredder and wears its quilted maple livery and antique Dark Brown Sunburst well - an ebony fretboard with a minimum of pearloid fills out an enigmatic guitar that reeks of class.
The NT-II comes well-equipped with a Seymour Duncan SH-4 (Jeff Beck model) in the bridge, and SH-1 ('59) in the neck. It's a classic pairing.
The punch, attitude and expressive high-end of the SH-4 makes it one of the finest high-output passive humbuckers in the business. Even in high-gain scenarios, the SH-4 won't go shrill on you; it articulates your rhythm and lead work perfectly, complementing rather than compromising your playing.
The SH-1, as you'd expect, is channelling a vintage PAF tone. When selected, it provides log-fire levels of warmth with just the right amount of break-up, and is perfect for smooth, creamy overdrive. And where the SH-4 has the bite, an abundance of presence even in clean tones, the SH-1 is that bit more civilised.
Part of the raison d'être of the shred double-cut is versatility, and in the warm, spongy tones of the SH-1, the NT-II has an expressive range of cleans, aided and abetted with the coil-split for some single-coil subtlety.
Five minutes with the NT-II is long enough to recognise the appeal that it has with metal guitarists who want a guitar that has all the dynamics to handle clean, chimey arpeggios and ill-tempered, overdriven riffs alike.
The U-contoured neck, with a neck-through construction for added stability and tone, is slim without being so emaciated that your hand cramps after thirty minutes. The high-gloss finish does have a tendency to gum up with sweaty hands, but this is our only minor gripe.