These German Symphonic metallers have come a long way since releasing their debut album ‘Songs of Love And Death’ back in 2015. Jettisoning a whole band just after the release of their second album, leaving only singer Jennifer Haben, could have proved something of a disaster; yet, it seemed to spur Haben and Beyond The Black onto bigger and better things.
Their self-titled fifth album sees them building on their 2020 release ‘Horizon’, taking a more direct and streamlined approach without losing the essence of what made Beyond The Black so special
in the first place. The more overt Symphonic elements have been scaled back a little, but the result is an overwhelming success.
‘Is There Anybody Out There’, with its Arabian themed refrain and driving riff, is the perfect opener and grabs the attention right from the off. Haben has grown in confidence since those early albums and gives a commanding performance, delivering a magnificent, soaring chorus. The following ‘Reincarnation’ has something of a Folk feel musically, but packs a huge punch with an absolutely cracking chorus.
In ‘Free Me’, Beyond The Black have created quite possibly one of the best ballads you’ll hear over the last decade; a bold statement indeed, but Haben’s heartfelt delivery is simply gorgeous, and when the chorus hits, it takes everything to a higher plane. In fact, this song was so stunning, it made it difficult to progress through to the next song without constantly pressing the replay button.
‘Winter Is Coming’ and the wonderfully rhythmical ‘Dancing In The Dark’ keep the momentum flying through the mid-point of the album, while the stirring ‘Raise Your Head’ and the haunting, atmospheric ‘Do You Remember’, again featuring a match winning performance from Haben, ensure that there is no dip as the album comes to an end.
Five albums in, and Beyond The Black have more than delivered on their early promise. Due for release in early January, it begs the question, is it too soon to nominate ‘Beyond The Black’ as a serious contender for Album of the Year in 2023?