BEYOND THE BLACK
HEART OF THE HURRICANE
Released: August 29, 2018
''Everything changes under the light of hope.
You still have the misery surrounding you, but there is something else balancing it.'' -Ville Valo
German symphonic metal band Beyond the Black have really come into their own with “Heart of the Hurricane”, their third full-length album of their rather short career. Formed in 2014 by Jennifer Haben, the band soon performed at Wacken Open Air, and subsequently released their brilliant debut album “Songs of Love and Death” (2015).
Following the release of the mysterious “Lost in Forever” (2016), the band went through a dramatic line-up change, but came on top stronger than before and this new release proves they are now a force to be reckoned with on the metal scene.
Powerful, thunderous, epic yet having a certain aura of melancholy and darkness, “Heart of the Hurricane” is Beyond the Black’s best release to date. Everything, from the melodies, guitar lines, backing orchestrations and vocal delivery, to the lyrics and overall flow of the album, is meant to grab the listener’s attention and carefully guide them through this labyrinth of gloomy stories and tales.
Heart of the hurricane
Through the mirror
Song for the godless
Escape from the Earth
Beneath a blackened sky
Fairytale of doom
My God is dead
Scream for me
Echo from the past (bonus track)
Parade (bonus track)
This ambiance is felt from the start as “Hysteria”, catchy as it may be, is also very dark and somber both in melody, lyrics, and delivery. The following track, “Heart of the Hurricane”, also the first single released, as well as the third single “A million lightyears” are a bit more up-tempo but still really melancholy, with just a hint of hopefulness. On the latter we can also hear Chris Hermsdörfer, whose clean vocals mix well with Jennifer’s on that rockish track. The piano driven ballad “Through the mirror” furthers still this feeling of separation and distance, though not necessarily geographical, from the loved ones, being a plea for getting closer and overcoming obstacles. The folky and somewhat joyous “Song for the godless” is another track about getting together and celebrating life, while the chorus is a subtle throwback to “Songs of Love and Death” (at least for me). “Escape from the Earth” is probably the most emotional song on this album, a dark and atmospheric track both lyrically and instrumentally.
Relating to the quote at the beginning of this review, most of the album is a constant back in forth between ‘this world is mad’ (like the massive symphonic piece “Beneath a blackened sky”, the aggressive “My God is dead”, or the groovy “Hysteria”) to ‘you are not alone in this mad world’ (the monstrous “Scream for me”, the sweet acoustic “Breeze”, or the up-beat “Song for the godless”) and I love how these two aspects alternate as the album progresses. There is a sense of loss that can he heard throughout this album, either lost love (the gloomy “Fairytale of Doom”) or a lost sense of belonging (the aforementioned ballad “Through the mirror”), but there are moments of hope to balance these feelings (as the chorus of the up-beat “Dear Death”). There is darkness, but there is also light, and just an undertone of optimism.
Music-wise I love the backing orchestration and the vocal delivery very much – Jennifer Haben, young as she is, is quickly becoming one my favorite vocalists on the metal scene, as her vocals can be really soulful but also really powerful and engaging. She impressed me from the first listen to “In the Shadows” back in 2015, and she never fails to amaze me with her gorgeous voice, and I can’t even pick a favorite vocal performance on this album, everything is top-notch. The guitar work is really great throughout the album (as for instance on “Hysteria”, “Song for the godless” or on “Freedom), while the drum and bass deliver the necessary rhythmic layers and grooves every time. There are also some beautiful keyboards lines to accompany the melodies and harmonies, and create an overall lush atmosphere.
With “Heart of the Hurricane”, Beyond the Black have delivered a remarkable album full of gripping melodies, massive orchestral arrangements and choral settings, groovy riffs and intense emotions, passion and a lot of punch, all wrapped up in symphonic metal charm. Fresh and lively from start to finish. Highly recommend!
Rating: 9.5 / 10
Jennifer Haben – vocals
Chris Hermsdörfer – lead guitars
Tobi Lodes – rhythm guitar
Stefan Herkenhoff – bass
Kai Tschierschky – drums
Jonas Roßner – keyboards