So. Yeah. Here’s the thing. Beyond The Black were always so very hit and miss. The only reason anyone ever noticed them is that a few tracks on their debut kicked major ass. Songs Of Love And Death (2015) showcased some incredible talent but never let loose in full that could turn freaking lethal given the proper chance. But then they got big, without ever really deserving it by playing Wacken. Then a year after their debut album they confirmed their stance in basically radio friendly Nightwish influenced symphonic metal dragging towards rock based areas with follow up Lost In Forever (2016). That album, too, had some redeeming qualities, but never soared as high as the first one at times managed to do. Interestingly, the bonus songs released with the special edition of Lost In Forever held the album’s best moments - mainly an awesome duet between Jennifer Haben and seemingly everywhere Herbie Langhans.
Now, two years since their sophomore effort, they release Heart Of The Hurricane, with all fresh members, except for Haben. To make sure something hits, they’ve stuffed the album with 13 tracks, but still only nearly hitting the one hour mark. Add to that two bonus tracks which are on all versions of the album, so not very bonus, to hit it just over one hour. Therein lies the problem; it’s quantity over quality, style over substance. Now for sure, Heart Of The Hurricane has its high points, but they are sadly too few and far in between to warrant an entire album. It opens of fresh and strong enough with Hysteria, sounding a bit like In The Shadows from the debut, taken on with another angle and with neat, invigorating hooks, even though it’s nothing groundbreaking it’s the kind of high point that makes you notice the band to begin with. It’s a great opener, one of those immediate hits that Beyond The Black do so well; great hooks, simple yet catchy melodies and Haben is great.
However, after the great opening, the songs are way too many, and some are way too short to even notice. They fly by and once they’ve ended they’re forgotten.Everything follows the same formula, once again, to make sure it’s all uniform and hitting the same tingles. Lyrics about love, longing and this and that do work with Haben’s voice, which is oddly emotive even for the shallow instrumentals accompanying (and if I wasn’t such a sentimental sap I’d call them ridiculous). There is little in the way of memorable riffs, standout solos or, which is a detriment to the album. Some parts here and there do the trick just fine - take the keyboard backdrop in Through The Mirror or the choral layered vocals accompanying Haben that add more big to what’s already pretty big, in tracks like Fairytale Of Doom and Beneath A Blackened Sky - adding some dynamic sense of musical direction that isn’t just your run of the mill mainstream symphonic metal.All in all, Heart Of The Hurricane is just about what one might expect, but with the high points a little too few to make it stand up to the previous effort, which stands as Beyond The Black’s strongest.
Standout tracks: Hysteria, Echo From The Past