“Beyond The Black emerges from their cocoon and reaches the next level with the upcoming album Hørizøns”, they said. “…unequalled, differentiated spectra of symphonic and melodic rock spiced with sonorous melodious metal soundscapes in 13 manifold songs”, they said. That looks good on paper but what happens in reality?
In reality, Beyond The Black started in 2014 as young but very ambitious Symphonic Metal band with lovely vocalist Jennifer Haben. Their first show was nothing less than on Wacken Open Air and the debut album Songs Of Love And Death was greatly acclaimed by fans and critics. Next album Lost In Forever strengthened the band’s positions but in the middle of 2016 something went wrong and almost all musicians left the band, leaving Jennifer alone in Beyond The Black. Nevertheless, new line-up was completed and in 2018 the band releases controversial Heart Of The Hurricane and now it’s Hørizøns.
I’ll start from the pros: Hørizøns is dynamic and very melodic album. Guitarists Chris Hermsdofer and Tobi Lodes deliver solid riffs, something like breakdowns and quite technical solos from time to time. Stefan Harkenhoff’s bass sounds also heavy; drummer Kai Tschierschky pleases with good drum patterns and double pedal. And Jennifer’s vocal still perceptive and sonorous as it was.
Now let’s go to contras (we’ll talk about the pros one more time in the end). The first single “Misery” have raised questions, to put it politely among lots of fans: tough guitars and drums didn’t saved this totally poppy song. In the interview to A&P Reacts Jennifer told about this song: “I think the most important thing for us was to not think about all the haters too much. There is something that you are always thinking about; if you don’t want it you are doing it. So it’s the thing that we tried, the first song that we wrote for the album was “Misery” […] we wanted to write one song that is totally different to what we did before and it has some kind of pop verse in it and we knew that. It’s not like “Whoa, we just write a new song and it’s pop now”, no! We wanted to make something like this and to say “Yes, it’s for you, guys! We do whatever we want to do.” Nevertheless, the problem is not only in this specific song but the whole album because it all sounds more or less poppy. In the opening “Horizons” some pop motive prevails on the good pace and riffs (while it’s not as forthright as in “Misery”). The same thing happens with “Golden Pariah”: at first you are glad to hear some heavy riffs and drums but then comes chorus and your fun is gone. But I can understand people who loved this song: compared to “Misery” it sounds pretty good.
Three ballads here are also sound not so well, while Beyond The Black were always good with ballads and slow songs. “Out Of The Ashes” would remind Evanescence from early 2000s if not proverbial poppy motive: take out guitars from there and you can easily put this song on radio somewhere between “Halo” and “Because Of You”. “I Won’t Surrender” with participation of Tina Guo is just a piano, cello and emotionally singing Jennifer. But overall it sounds really generic and talented Chinese cellist didn’t save the situation also.
For the sake of justice I need to say there are some nice pieces in Hørizøns, especially in the end of the album. “Some Kind Of Monster” sounds perky and radio-friendly enough. Surprisingly, there are lots of catchy moments in rhythmical “Parallyzed” (although this song reminded me, personally Skate and Pop Punk). “Coming Home” is also stands out with an interesting riff and solid bass; Jennifer’s intonations are also different here. And the ending “Welcome To My Wasteland” is full of drive and energy.
All in all, Hørizøns is not quite the album, which fans expected from Beyond The Black. No doubt, musicians can play what they want and the way they want (but I’m pretty sure that I’m already in Jennifer’s black list of haters). And I can’t really say that it’s a bad album: it’s melodic; there are some good parts and catchy moments. After all, it recorded and mixed greatly. But as for me, the main problem is that Hørizøns sounds like poppy band with guitars and not Metal with some elements of Pop. And I don’t think I’ll listen to this album again.
Hørizøns will be released on June, 19th via Napalm Records.
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