Beyond The Black - 'Horizons' Album Review
3. Wounded Healer
4. Some Kind Of Monster
6. Golden Pariahs
7. Marching On
8. You’re Not Alone
9. Out Of The Ashes
11. Coming Home
12. I Won’t Surrender
13. Welcome to My Wasteland
I’ve been a fan of Beyond The Black for a few years now, and was actively excited by the idea of a new album from these German Symphonic Metallers – and then, when they started releasing a couple of tracks earlier this year, I was a little disappointed, as the first two I listened to (“Misery” and “Golden Pariahs”) were both just OK. I was sure they would grow on me, but I was marginally disappointed that neither of them smacked me round the face with their awesomeness.
But I was determined to wait and see how they worked in context, and what the rest of the album was like. When the album dropped, I took a deep breath and pressed play on the title track with a little scepticism. But I was immediately rewarded by a blast of brilliant, heavy, perfect Metal. “Horizons” (the track) does what every good opening song does, which is provide you a bridge between the bands previous works, and a gateway into what you are about to spend the next hour of your life listening to.
It becomes clear that this always polished sounding band have embraced various areas of electronic music around the edges of their songs, as well as not being shy at all about making the music that they want to make – and they’ve embraced a certain level of rawness in this album as well.
The standout tracks for me are spread quite well throughout the album – I’ve talked about how much I love “Horizons” the opening track, and I can’t sing it many more praises here than I already have. “Some Kind Of Monster” is another brilliant track, with a full bodied chorus being easy to sing along with and feeling like the most likely track to have been a hit single (if we still had hit singles in the Metal community any more!).
But for me, the absolute best song on this album, hands down, is “Paralyzed”. Tucked away near the end of the album, this song is on my list for best track of the year so far. It is singable, headbangable and utterly guaranteed to burrow its way into your brain and remain an earworm for weeks to come.
I’ve only mentioned three tracks of this thirteen track album so far, and I don’t want to undersell the rest – there is genuinely not a bad track here. The two I worried about pre-release (“Misery” and “Golden Pariahs”) sit brilliantly well alongside the rest of the album, with “Misery” in particular benefiting hugely from coming straight after “Horizons”.
There are a couple of slower numbers (as you might expect if you’ve got any knowledge of the band), and of these, “Out Of The Ashes” works really well for me, perfectly straddling the line between ballad and Metal in the way you very rarely see. Sadly the other slow number “I Won’t Surrender”, doesn’t quite do the same for me, and is probably the weakest song on the album. But it’s still perfectly listenable to, and doesn’t do any damage to the rest of this brilliant album.
The album ends with “Welcome To My Wasteland”, which has way too much energy and excitement to be your standard album closer – this could have been the opening track, and is just as good, closing the album in such a brilliant manner. “Horizons” the album is different to their previous album “Heart Of A Hurricane”, but I think it’s going to be a permanent fixture in my life just as much as that album was (and “Lost In Forever” before it).
I don’t know if you could tell, but my opinion of this album is that it is an absolute belter, and if you like powerful, exciting, head banging, soul shaking music, this album deserves your time, your money and your appreciation. And in these times of uncertainty and confusion, what could be more comforting than a brilliant, brilliant album.
Long live Beyond The Black, and I really hope that when gigs return, they come back and rock the UK shores once again – I for one will be at the front of the queue!
Website - beyond-the-black.com
Review - Michael Braunton