In just a few short years, German symphonic metal outfit BEYOND THE BLACK, led by talented vocalist Jennifer Haben, have conquered not only the audiences in their home country but also the hearts of many metalheads across Europe. Being in a steady ascension since their debut with “Songs of Love and Death” (2015), overcoming a line-up overhaul with “Lost in Forever” (2016), and showing more nuances of their sound with “Heart of the Hurricane” (2018), the band is now ready to unleash their newest effort, “Hørizøns.” The album will be out on Napalm Records later this month, on 19 June 2020 to be more exact.
Pushing their sound in a more modern direction and letting go of some symphonic layers, “Hørizøns” offers some new facets of the band. First single “Misery” already showcased this change, being more upbeat, melodic, and energetic, with a palpable pop-rock vibe to it, probably to appeal to a larger audience. Second single “Golden Pariahs” is a bit more metal and has a fuller sound, with groovy drumming from Kai Tschierschky, while the duet with Elize Ryd, “Wounded Healer,” offers beautiful harmonies, and feels a bit like WITHIN TEMPTATION’s “The Reckoning.” In fact, “Hørizøns,” as a whole, is reminiscent of “Trophy Hunter” (from “Resist”) as some of the songs have the same symphonic-meets-industrial feel to them, while also flirting with some pop elements. The anthemic “Some Kind of Monster” and “Paralyzed” are definitely such songs, with bombastic choruses and gloomy atmosphere to them. The dark “Human” has some more preeminent symphonic undertones to it coming from the backing orchestration, while the chorus is big and memorable. “Coming Home” is a big, majestic track with yet another catchy chorus that will have the listeners singing along in no time.
Elsewhere on the album, opening track “Horizons” is a heavy and atmospheric display of sounds, with a tremendous guitar solo that urges listeners to embark on this adventure heading to “new horizons.” The trio of songs that makes the middle of the album – the ballad “Out of the Ashes,” the powerful “Marching On,” and the electronic-infused “You’re Not Alone” – bring a more optimistic view, lyrically speaking, offsetting the darker atmosphere of the album. The same can be said about “I Won’t Surrender,” which features the lovely Tina Guo on electric cello and sees Jennifer Haben being both vulnerable and determined. Coming full circle, the album closes with “Welcome to my Wasteland,” which is quite an upbeat number considering its bleak lyrics, in the vein of “Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy)” from KAMELOT. The sparse vocals from guitarist Chris Hermsdörfer (also a member of SERENITY) add a bit more texture to the songs he’s featured on. The backing orchestrations wrap the music in a layer of darkness that really complements Jennifer Haben’s crystal clear vocals and highlight the nuances of her tone. Like anything else coming out of Sasha Paeth’s studio (KAMELOT, AVANTASIA, TURILLI / LIONE RHAPSODY, EDGUY), the production on this album is crisp and smooth, allowing for a pleasant listening experience.
It is clear that BEYOND THE BLACK is no longer a symphonic metal band using the same tropes as many others out there. On “Heart of the Hurricane” they played around with a new sound, which they have perfected with “Hørizøns.” While many will probably criticize this change, the truth of the matter is that all bands go through this search for identity during their first few records, with many of them shaping their sound on their third or fourth album. The same happened with BEYOND THE BLACK, who have found their sonic identity with this album. True enough, it takes a bit of getting used to seeing them in this darker light, but it does suit them pretty well.
Written by Andrea Crow
- Wounded Healer
- Some Kind of Monster
- Golden Pariahs
- Marching On
- You’re Not Alone
- Out of the Ashes
- Coming Home
- I Won’t Surrender
- Welcome to my Wasteland
Jennifer Haben –
Stefan Herkenhoff – bass
Chris Hermsdörfer – guitar, backing vocals
Tobi Lodes – guitar, backing vocals
Kai Tschierschky – drums
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