Beyond The Black - Lost in Forever

Beyond The Black Lost in Forever cover
Beyond The Black
Lost in Forever
Airforce1 Records
You have to love the fact that music is becoming more and more formulaic. What’s selling? Vampires, sappy stories about love, puppies, girls wearing corsets, tattoos and something akin to Eurovision pop, but with a mild dose of distortion. You can mix and match trying to create something like Nightwish or Within Temptation and if your production values are good and you have at least a couple of decent tracks, even on your debut on a multinational company no less, you get to tour with veteran acts, who will not say no to the money offered to play or end up “near headlining” concerts that will not have bands with a couple of albums unless they pay or go play for absolutely free, no matter how good they are.
Fans give not two fucks mostly downloading everything and rarely exhibiting dedication to bands, unless it’s some limited edition or multicolored vinyl that they could sell on eBay later, making a profit… pfff metal’s turned to a business and since metalheads are a bit dumb – business is not that bad.
Enter Beyond The Black, a German Symphonic band that checks all of these boxes and sounds as if they came out of a cookie cutter that makes Within Temptation clones coming together in 2014, delivering a quite decent debut in 2015 and now a sophomore a mere year later. Either they‘re on fire, inspiration wise, or just pushed to deliver more and more, while the investment is “hot”.
“Lost in Forever” the lead single and title track is indeed quite poppy and easily digestible and has a nice enough chorus.
Also the semi ballad “Beautiful Lies”, a duet with Masterplan’s current vocalist Rick Altzi, is even sappier, but quite good and catchy. From that point onwards though things go somewhat downhill, the band maintains the polished sound and employs all tricks trying to keep on pulling bunnies out of their collective hats, but fails somewhat miserably.
“Written in Blood” is very much by the numbers, a predictable, over the top, goth-pop-piece of bubblegum that you’d wish hadn’t stuck in your 3 play heeled boot.
“Against the World” is a pseudo anthemic-ballad that sounds as unconvincing as you might think it would do. Sorry, but I’d take the Lizzy Borden song of the same title that this generic pastiche of goth-pop clichés, produced to perfection, because it basically sounds devoid of any soul, despite Jennifer Habben’s best efforts. Oh mysteriously enough this number includes a well-played solo, one of the more extended on the album, but it’s probably coming a little out of the blue and feels like it could have not been there, but ended up just propping up.
“Beyond the Mirror” begins with some jig of a violin and the band replicating that melody, but goes on to become another middle of the road track that’s ultimately forgettable.
“Halo of the Dark” is a bit better, only a tuned vocal (for effect – not to “fix it”) and an acoustic going on for a while, before things go completely “Nightwish” a little into the first minute. Ehm, it’s not too bad, but it doesn’t exactly manage to appeal as much as the 2 first songs.
“Dies Irae” also goes for this somewhat more theatrical, grandiose “Nightwish” sort of style and is another acceptable offering, despite the latin chants sounding a little cheesy. Oh well, what can one do.
“Forget My Name” occupies the territory between Within Temptation (incl male harsh vocals etc) and Evanescence and all their ilk. Songs that pull all stops, but rarely manage to feel genuine.
And since the album has dug itself into a bit of a rut, “Burning in Flames” exploits some forced dynamics, with the guitars suddenly brought forward, but failing to really change the albums fortunes by much, at least however, managing to “wake” up the listener or keeping him/her from falling asleep.
Another cliché is checked as BTB are not the first nor will they be the last band to be inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “Raven”, on “Nevermore”, a song that is however a cut above the rest on the latter part of the album, with its more inspired and organic riffing and the better incorporated orchestrations that thicken the band’s music instead of antagonizing it.
“Shine and Shade” begins with some rather eastern sounds almost covering up a riff and sees the band finding their footing again in a more symphonic way that reminded me a bit of the choirs that Blind Guardian and Sabaton use sometimes. Unfortunately one of the dudes in the band remembers that there’s a microphone in front of him and actually uses it when it’s quite clear that he should not... embarrass himself. It’s a song that almost works, I guess.
But the way more metallic “Heaven in Hell” doesn’t work as well, despite having a half decent idea, it feels a bit rushed, as much of the album does, probably done in haste to meet some contractual clause or to keep momentum.
Last but not least, “Love’s a Burden” is better effort at a ballad, but reveals JH to be soulful, but not as great as the tons of production would make you think. It’s quite brave to expose yourself in such a way I guess though and a good way as any to conclude the album.
A band that has a good production and fairly good performances and orchestrations, but doesn’t manage to deliver the goods consistently, perhaps they should take a bit more of a breather between albums in order to get some better songs together. Not passable, but a little trite and definitely their meteoric rise could end up with a quite sharp decline, unless they “build” naturally. Still the first two tunes are nice pop-metal nuggets.