Artist: Beast in Black
Album: From Hell with Love
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Beast in Black was originally known for being Anton Kabanen‘s new band after parting ways with Battle Beast in 2015. For what could originally be considered a spin-off band, BiB is doing incredibly well, with tours throughout Europe and plenty of festival and opener slots in the past few years. Now, on February 8th, 2019, they are releasing their sophomore follow-up to their 2017 debut, Berserker.
I have some mixed feelings about From Hell with Love on the whole. For one, it’s catchy as hell, and if you’re just looking for Beast in Black to be your summer party band, this album will likely do the trick. It opens with “Cry Out for a Hero” (nod to Bonnie Tyler?), which is high energy, fun, and will likely get summer festival crowds moving. Following that is the title track, which has an 80s/90s video game vibe in the intro and happens to be so shamelessly catchy that it’s almost unfair.
If the 2018 single, “Sweet True Lies” tickled your fancy, I think you’ll like this album, plain and simple. If you thought it was too disco, not enough metal, you’ll likely think the whole album is much the same. And though I do think “Sweet True Lies” is a good representative song of the album, it’s certainly not the best they had to offer, which is a good thing (by that I mean, good that they didn’t release the best song and that nothing else lived up to it).
“Repentless” felt a bit too directly like a ripoff of older Nightwish, with the intro sounding like “End of All Hope” and the chorus sounding like “Wishmaster.” It has its own 80s synth parts, certainly, but otherwise sounds a tad too familiar. Likewise, the intro to “Die by the Blade” sounds almost exactly the same as “Runaway” by Bon Jovi, until it gets into the cheesy metal lyrics. Do I think it’s a good metal song? Not especially. Do I think it’s better than “Runaway” by Bon Jovi? Well, I’d certainly pick this one if you gave me the option!
They do change things up and keep the album interesting though. “Oceandeep”, while sounding like Nightwish in name, opens with pipe sounds and features considerably softer and more feminine vocals by Yannis Papadopoulos, who remains the all-star of this album throughout. I can’t fault the guitar sounds, and “Oceandeep” does have a pretty nice guitar solo in it; it’s not the only song either. What I do find strange, however, is how unoriginal the drums are, considering the riffs and melodies are quite catchy and well done throughout. Even the electronic and chip sounds from the synth are pretty solid across the board. But Atte Palokangas is no slouch on the drums (as seen from Thunderstone, for example), so I feel like this album must have been a snore for him to record, with basic disco drums half the time, and the only real change-ups being breaks in the double kick, even if they were done with flair. Papadopoulos distracts from this regularly though, with Rob Halford-esque wails in a few songs, and soft higher notes again but at a faster beat in “Unlimited Sin”; this being a personal favorite, even with the basic drumming. And I can’t not mention the quality of Kabanen’s guitars – the solos are really catchy throughout the album. Say what you will, the man can play guitar.
“Heart of Steel” had me tentatively worried – that’s a Manowar song name (though I bet Papadopolous could rock the Manowar vocals) and Manowar is… well, Manowar. It is not a Manowar cover though. The song is pretty upbeat and catchy overall, nowhere near ballad territory. It just has those basic-beat drums again, which really are starting to feel like the only thing holding this album back from a higher score. The song is full-fledged 80s power metal and is kind of glorious in many ways, if you like to amp up the sound, raise a fist, and bang your head (or dance). The album then ends with “No Surrender”, a generic name for a high-energy slice of tasty cheese. If you liked the rest of the album, this’ll be a fine closer for you.
If you ever wished that the 80s were more power metal, this album might be just what the doctor ordered. This album could’ve, perhaps, been called Influences, as it’s fairly clear what bands these guys are fond of from the music: music like Bon Jovi and Bonnie Tyler, as well as heavy bands like Judas Priest can be heard, as well as the others I’ve mentioned above. And while the basic disco drums make a few songs duller than they should’ve been, like “This is War”, the album on the whole is really catchy and fun to listen to. It dances the line as to whether it wants to be taken seriously or not, but ultimately, if you don’t take yourself (or your metal) too seriously, you will probably have some fun listening to this one!
Rating: 8.5/10, 4 stars
1. Cry Out for a Hero
2. From Hell with Love
3. Sweet True Lies
5. Die By the Blade
7. Unlimited Sin
8. True Believer
9. This is War
10. Heart of Steel
11. No Surrender