BEAST IN BLACK – From Hell With Love

I was very hesitant to give Finish Metal-stompers Battle Beast even the tiniest break for quite the while. I thought their name sucked, I was confident that they were just another cheesy Power Metal band that would bore me to tears so I didn’t bother. When I finally gave them a shot – and fell for them immediately – original guitar player and main song writer Anton Kabanen had left the band for reasons I’m still not sure of. Luckily enough, Battle Beast proved that they could make great music on their own. What had happened to Kabanen and what he was up to, I was pretty clueless of. I had read the name Beast In Black somewhere but I didn’t know that it was Kabanen’s new baby. And to be honest, I can say that I wasn’t exactly looking either. Battle Beast for me are a band that I really like but I haven’t gotten to the point where my interest is that big that I feel the need to explore everything the ex- members are doing.

What lead me to Beast In Black was a message I got on a music forum that asked me to review Beast In Black’s debut album Berserker from 2017. Unfortunately the album had been out for a while at the time and I felt it was a bit too old for a review. Also, I didn’t have the time to squeeze that one in at the time. But I did check the album out and it stood clear fast that it was the guy behind Battle Beast that was the mastermind behind Beast in Black as well. Not only did Beast In Black sound like slightly heavier version of Battle Beast with a male singer – Greece born iron lunged Yannis Papadopoulos – their logo are basically the same as well. And the album’s art work had lots and lots in common with his former band. My guess is that personality clashes were the main reason behind the split between the two and that Kabanen now wanted to form a new outfit under his control. Be that as it may, I thought the album was a killer and when they now release their second record, to not review it is out of the question.

Opener “Cry Out For A Hero” sounds exactly as I had expected – and hoped. It’s a real jawbreaker. Upbeat, heavy with a slight nod to Power Metal, the song goes straight for the throat with no intentions to take prisoners. The contrast between the Metal heaviness and the 80’s sounding synths works like a charm and when the crazy-catchy refrain hits, I’m all in. Very good. The title-track and latest single follows – upbeat and punchy with more 80’s sounding synths over a fine mix of Metal and Pop melodies. It’s a big, quite bombastic tune that holds both heavy guitar riffing, big 80’s hooks and even a disco-like rhythm. The refrain is so catchy it’s insane with all hit-potential in the world. Brilliant. Leading single “Sweet True Lies” sounds like something Bon Jovi and Desmond Child could have written in 1987 – and they probably did. “You Give Love A Bad Name” rears in the back of my mind even though it’s not a clone. It holds a punchy groove and a refrain Jon Bon Jovi would sell his mom for. It might be a bit cheesy but I can only surrender to this. A hit!

“Repentless” do stand out a bit here and I’m not sure it’s on the positive side. Yes, it’s heavy, symphonic and very hooky but it also makes me think of both Nightwish (nothing wrong with them) and stuff like Sabaton which brings a darker edge and a more Power Metal twist to their style. Since I’m not a fan of either Power Metal or Sabaton, this song isn’t really up my alley. Second taster “Die By The Blade” is an uptempo pop-metal stomper that’s both headbang-friendly and danceable. With lots of keyboards and a refrain that would take the Eurovision Song Contest by storm mixed with some Metal riffage, this catchy thing comes off a winner as well. “Oceandeep” is a big, bombastic ballad that’s both heavy and a bit dark. Some acoustic guitars brings up the dynamics as well and this epic power ballad’s huge chorus makes sure you’ll never forget it once you hear it. Man, I dig this!

The tough and ballsy “Unlimited Sin” comes with a pop-metal swagger that also holds a rhythm that makes it hard to sit still. After a softer kick-off, the tune goes into a heavier yet very poppy stomping-mode full of synths and edgy guitars with a chorus so catchy it hurts, single material without a doubt. A killer! There is a Metal twist to “True Believer” but for the most, this tune is a time machine back to 1988 – a pop-rocker with big AOR-smelling melodies. Think Europe late 80’s with a Metal influence over some chunky pop rhythms and a brilliant refrain that’s both contagious and addictive. Must be a single at some point. Poptastic stuff! If Sabaton were any decent they just might pull a song like “This Is War” off. It’s a heavy, pounding, fist-in-the-air kind of song that holds a Power Metal vibe.  It’s a very catchy number but I’m not that big on this kind of Metal so for me it falls on the way-side.

“Heart Of Steel” is a bit more laid-back yet still heavy with good, meaty riffing but also brings back the 80’s flavored synths all over the track which actually makes me think of Survivor of all bands. The main-melody and stunningly catchy refrain brings Civil War to mind, something I don’t mind as I really dig Civil War. It’s heavy and bouncy but in a mid-tempo. Very good. Closing track “No Surrender” is straight-forward Heavy Metal, tough and robust and heavy without losing any catchiness. It’s an intense metal stomper but again with a refrain that truly kills. For the deluxe edition we’re treated with two covers. First out is Motörhead’s “Killed By Death”, a brave move – and then some. They stay pretty true to the original here but they have also made it their own with a poppier outlook and added keyboards. It shouldn’t work but it does. I dig it. Next is Robert Tepper’s “Ain’t No Easy Way Out” from the Rocky IV soundtrack. Originally, this is an 80’s pop-west coast-AOR track but again, BIB has really made it their own but without changing too much. It’s heavier and with more punch but still quite danceable on a groovy beat. Well done.

To chose between this album and its predecessor isn’t easy as I find they’re both equally good. But what is clear with this record is that almost every song feels like a hit. Sure, everything is more or less 80’s bound and it’s so sugar-loaded that the listener is close to a candy OD, but at the same time the musical style is so unpretentious and made of the sheer love of Metal and 80’s Melodic Rock and chart pop it’s hard not to surrender. This album is done with conviction, heart and soul so for us who are suckers for big, catchy refrains and 80’s Hard Rock, what’s not to love? Shitloads of hooks, catchiness deluxe and groovy, fat rhythms can take you far. Battle Beast will release a new album in March so it’ll be interesting to see which band takes the victory home. What’s certain is that Battle Beast will have to bring forth one helluva record to match this.

8/10

Tracklist:

1. Cry Out For A Hero
2. From Hell With Love
3. Sweet True Lies
4. Repentless
5. Die By The Blade
6. Oceandeep
7. Unlimited Sin
8. True Believer
9. This Is War
10. Heart Of Steel
11. No Surrender
12. Killed By Death (Bonus track)
13. Ain’t No Easy Way Out (Bonus Track)

Advertisements