Hørizøns is German symphonic metal outfit Beyond the Black’s fourth full length, and amazingly I find myself listening intently though they’ve yet to release an album better than decent. Lead up single Misery did scream and shout to stay away, what with its mind numbingly bland pop metal sound signifying the band is closing in on a style more reminiscent of Amaranthe than the old school greats of the symphonic metal genre the first album hinted of. The title track opens the album up, Haben chanting the title to set it off, and is then joined by an unidentified guy yelling “come with me” all timid and meek, doing absolutely nothing to heighten the feel of the song which just goes on to be your average approachable melodic metal tune. Then the aforementioned Misery comes in, setting the album off on a pair of duds. Not to worry, I think to myself, second album Lost in Forever (2016) took six full songs of boredom before getting to something truly interesting - and it’s their best one to date. After that release the ‘band’ shed their entire lineup, save for Haben herself, citing differences in musical direction as the reason. It’s obvious why.
Things are very catchy, and the songwriting itself is decent enough, pandering though it is to appeal to the mass audience. Before the covid-19 outbreak, Beyond the Black were on their way on to a joined headline tour with Amaranthe, and it’s no wonder they’re becoming the next flagship of female fronted melodic metal scene backed by cash and an international label. Beyond the Black were never the cerebral man’s choice, but they had a certain charm especially plucked out for a few moments of magic and mindblowing song writing chops that came through in a few picks. This seems all but gone on Hørizøns, which focuses instead on the simplistic choices and mind numbingly standard and boring songwriting that not only is disinterested in being interesting, but seems to take some measure of pride in the fact. The album does not follow the Lost in Forever formula; it does not magically get better at the halftime mark.
Beyond the Black has always been Jennifer Haben’s project, made clearly evident in the great purging of all other members back in 2016. So while it’s no genre absurdity for a band of this caliber to focus overmuch on the talents of its vocalist (and Haben has a great voice), that leaves the musical qualities on Hørizøns meager at best, guitarists Tobi Lodes and Christian Hermsdörfer left with uninteresting hooks and non-existent leads, just a few bleak riffs tossed in here and there - and Hermsdörfer can do some great stuff as evident by his albums with Serenity. The material on here just seems to go on in the absolute same vein; bland verses interspersed with big sounding choruses, all lacking emotional drive. There is some quality to a few melodic pieces here and there - never an entire song, but still - like the intro opening You’re Not Alone or the vocal melodies of the same (it’s a highlight of sorts) and the lead parts of Out of the Ashes. It’s not enough though, and Hørizøns is what was expected and less - devoid of any moments of magic. Why do I keep listening?
Standout tracks: You’re Not Alone, Out of the Ashes