Beyond The Black

Nuclear Blast
rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Is There Anybody Out There
02. Reincarnation
03. Free Me
04. Winter Is Coming
05. Into The Light
06. Wide Awake
07. Dancing In The Dark
08. Raise Your Head
09. Not In Our Name
10. I Remember Dying

Brimming with promise from the start, BEYOND THE BLACK began their career sounding not entirely distinct from the rest of the big-budget symphonic metal pack. Debut album "Songs of Love and Death" was full of great songs and vocalist Jennifer Haben had power and charisma in abundance, but this was still familiar territory.

Eight years is a long time in heavy music, however, and as they arrive at the unavoidably defining moment of a self-titled record, BEYOND THE BLACK have refined their music to the point where it stands alone, as a fresh new strain of deceptively heavy melodic metal. WITHIN TEMPTATION pulled off a similar trick on 2011's "The Unforgiving"; upgrading their sound, embracing modernity and shedding the majority of symphonic tropes. The Germans have taken a more organic approach to evolution, changing incrementally but regularly over a longer period, and so "Beyond The Black" is unlikely to startle the faithful, particularly after 2020's quietly daring "Horizons". What it may do is push its creators up a few rungs on the showbiz ladder because these songs are easily the finest of their career to date.

"Is Anybody Out There?" is a sublime opener: bombastic and infernally catchy, it's an instant metal anthem, built around a giant wall of guitars and thick swathes of futuristic synth. "Reincarnation" tells a tale of past and future lives over a punishing collage of riffs, Haben's hooks as sharp as needles. "Free Me" embraces the lavish arrangements and stirring choirs of high-spec AOR, while also being extraordinarily sweet and pretty, wielding a show-stopper chorus. "Winter Is Coming" is a proper, balls-out metal song with a theatrical heart and some wickedly unexpected chord shifts. "Into The Light" wears its pop sensibilities with pride, while still packing a brutish, mid-paced punch.

As much as they have steered the ship firmly away from the generic, BEYOND THE BLACK have still had the good sense to throw in a powerhouse ballad. "Wide Awake" is a really good one, too: atypical and emotionally vital. In contrast, "Dancing In The Dark" (not, I hasten to add, a Bruce Springsteen cover) is a joyously overblown stomp-along triumph. If this doesn't resound around arenas for the foreseeable future, there is no justice in this wicked world. Speaking of which, despair at the state of things is given short shrift on the urgent, edgy "Raise Your Head", wherein Haben delivers a career best performance over more maxed-out bombast. "Not In Our Name" allows a little folksiness to seep into the Germans' signature soup but coupled with some of their heaviest riffs to date and a living, breathing message that speaks for itself.

The closing "I Remember Dying" is the only moment that nods towards the textbook opulence of the past, but its spectral choirs and hypnotic, ancient drums conjure something much more evocative and moving than BEYOND THE BLACK were capable of on their debut album. These days, their identity is rock solid and their creative instincts are razor-sharp. Ten killer songs, no messing about.

Author: Dom Lawson
  • facebook
  • twitter
  • reddit
  • email

Comments Disclaimer And Information

BLABBERMOUTH.NET uses the Facebook Comments plugin to let people comment on content on the site using their Facebook account. The comments reside on Facebook servers and are not stored on BLABBERMOUTH.NET. To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@) with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).