January 13, 2023

It seems like forever that the singles from Beyond The Black’s fifth album have been around and something like the ‘old days’ when a single release meant that the songs were everywhere and no getting away from an impending album release. As much as the pandemic caused delays for the recent co-headlining tour with Amaranthe, there is something of a silver lining with being able to build a live show with new songs and a lot closer to the release date which adds that frisson of excitement to a whole new album of material.

Self-titling of the album gives the air of making a statement and it is also the first time that the cover art has featured all four members of the band rather than just vocalist Jennifer Haben. Everything about Beyond The Black points to an elevation, confidence, something to prove, ready for the next level but in days when visual art can get lost in the streaming age and self-titling is just low hanging fruit, the focus and the question will always be on whether the music itself lives up to a band’s intent. In that regard, Beyond The Black is a record that the Germans have been aiming to make.

Symphonic metal can be a flabby affair but Beyond The Black takes the delights of the genre and tips overboard the over indulgence to create a lithe 42minute journey delivering deft songwriting with gut punching melodies. Focused and fat free, the album is immediate, the familiarity of the singles nestling into the new songs; crunching heaviness swims alongside power balladry and while Beyond The Black is shorter than previous albums, it is no less effective in its demand for repeat plays to unearth its treasure.

Beyond The Black has never shied away from its folk rock leanings which is just as evident in the bristling Reincarnation but it is opener Is There Anybody Out There that brings the crunch, a thumping riff and a soaring chorus whereas Winter Is Coming adds a more widescreen presentation on the attention grabbing swathes of guitar. One of the album’s greatest strengths is its simplicity and by denying it any of symphonic metal’s major tropes, its immediacy is more evident and potent which just adds more power to the glorious Free Me with the choir bringing beauty and emotion to the fore. Jennifer Haben’s voice is simply awesome and while not the operatic, wine glass shattering variety synonymous with symphonic metal but a rich, digging into the soul type that is required to tell the stories that Beyond The Black wants to tell.

The commanding performance from Beyond The Black on their recent tour shows that this is a band that has grown and is making a serious play for the world’s largest stages and a band with those ambitions needs an album that draws a line to send a message. Beyond The Black is that message. Previous records have taken the band to the highest reaches of the charts in their home nation and neigbouring countries but Beyond The Black aims for a new height and one well within their grasp.

Beyond The Black is available now on Nuclear Blast Records