Beast In Black - From Hell with Love

Beast In Black From Hell with Love cover
Beast In Black
From Hell with Love
Nuclear Blast Records
Second album in barely as many years since their debut for the wimpy international metallists that seem on their newest opus to attempt to blur the lines between disco and metal even more than before. Comprised of Anton kabanen, the former Battle Beast main composer and guitarist and Greek supreme scream machine Yiannis Papadopoulos, along with one time UDO and Amberian Dawn guitarist Kasperi Heikkinen and Hungarian bassist Máté Molnár, they seem to have upgraded Thunderstone’s Atte Palokangas into a permanent drummer, after he helped them with recent performances, losing Sami Hänninen in the process.
In all honesty, “From Hell with Love” is probably musically lighter than “Berserker”, more melodic and slightly more preoccupied with bubblegum disco-rock melodies, than an album should probably be… but that doesn’t mean jack. We like discos. When they are on fire!
“Cry Out for a Hero” starts up the album in high gear and it’s probably again inspired by that “Berserker” “manga” that Kabanen is such a big fan of and it sounds as if someone mixed in a boiling cauldron Halford/Wayne type of over the top vocals with synths and guitars more akin to the “Turbo” era of Priest, if Giorgio Moroder had produced it. Think heavy metal Bonnie Tyler. Hell for some, heaven for others. It’s insanely cliché ridden, but catchy enough and it has a nice solo by Kabanen. In its twisted way, it kinda OK.
“From Hell with Love”, the eponymous track, starts with a percussive pattern that belongs to Sega Genesis 8-bit era and falsetto vocals that sound like a metal version of Alphaville or Modern Talking. They do go harsh after a bit, but that’s beside the point. The whole song is way too disco, but it has got a catchy chorus and a solo where the fury meets a flurry of notes. It’s cheerleader metal at its best for lack of a better description.
“Sweet True Lies” was the first song the band released as a single and it’s another wimpy disco-metal-hymn. It’s catchy but honestly the metal factor in it is diminished to its melodic riff. Also, the whole video that consciously lampoons the 80s that they profess to love so much, by exaggerating and making fun of stereotypes, while actually using archetypal elements from the era, shows that the irony must be lost on them.
“Repentless” tries too hard to be a power metal song, with sharp guitars and keyboard fanfares aplenty, cheesy warfare lyrics that make us some fairly nice verses, but some pretty weak falsettos during the intro. It’s not particularly imaginative, with its solo possibly being its highlight and saving grace.
“Die by the Blade” must have started life with a working title like “Die by the falling disco-ball”, or “Blood is on the dancefloor”. You should know the drill by know, falsetto verses and a powerful and catchy chorus that works, but feels a little forced. Again, the short solo is the highlight.
“Oceandeep” is a ballad that initially is sung in a semi-broken frilly falseto. It’s not bad, but honestly, its cinematic style lacks passion at least before the solos. Impressive vocaly, but devoid of real feeling. The solo is quite emotive and prompts Yianni to switch into his growly higher range turning the whole thing into a “power ballad” and saving it from the sappy mess it could have easily ended up being.
“Unlimited Sin” is another neon-light disco beat with a sharp riff over it, but with a more pop-rock hook. It’s funny listening to something so “weak” sounding with lyrics about abominations and all the like… a little silly really, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s no fun.
“True Believer” has some pizzicatos, and feels like a bad copy of “True Survivor” from the soundtrack of Kung Fury, with screams midway. I dunno if it’s a conscious nod, or an unconscious loan from that tune, but other than some nice lead work and a brief but nice vocal line in all that chaos, there’s not much substance here.
“This is War” is a by the numbers power metal number, which among a plethora of disco inspired rock/metal songs, feels rather pedestrian with its sturdy, steady rhythms and maybe even slightly out of place.
“Heart of Steel” is not a Manowar cover, but a bizarre mix between melodic rock of the 80s with a massive epic chorus that is rather Guardianesque. It momentarily tries to keep the record from the noticeable nosedive it takes after “Unlimited Sin”, but only manages to do so up to a certain extend.
Closer, “No Surrender” is a weird little number that feels a bit more pompous and rock and roll inspired, before it too is consumed by the disco-metal rage that seems to drive the entire album.
The digipack gifts the listener with a wimpy cover of Motorhead’s “Killed by Death” that has fair vocals, but the keyboard embellishments in it is something I could honestly live without. It tries a bit too hard to be macho and the second cover offered here, is another number that does reek of 80s fake machismo and cheap aftershave, being Robert Tepper’s “No Easy Way Out”, one of the better known tracks from of the soundtracks of Rocky, getting the scream your head out treatment that Dr. Yiannis ordered. Nice songs done in the band’s style, but not really anything particularly special.
This album builds on the work of its predecessor, but goes over the top “disco” and is far too reliant on its catchy choruses to make the songs work, which they ultimately do, thanks to the equally over the top vocal performances. This formula however becomes a bit stale, as it feels that Kabanen, who’s quite the capable player and composer, has turned himself and the band into a one trick pony of sorts. The rise and fall of his previous band, after his exit is a clear example of “how frivolous” the whole style is. Despite the initial high fun factor, I really couldn’t say that I was too impressed as the album seems uneven and rather forced in combining its 80s pop influences with the whole heavy metal schlock. OK, in small doses, but not genre shattering.