From the outset, Beyond The Black’s latest release 'Heart Of The Hurricane' makes it very clear that, despite an entirely new line up backing Jennifer Haben, this is not the fledgling effort of a new collective. Having toured extensively as a unit before even stepping into the studio, it becomes clear very early in the album that, even though Jennifer is the driving force, the band as a whole is very much of one mind.
This album is very much an experiential piece; whilst it contains blistering singles and tracks bombastic enough to stand on their own, it is by listening to the whole album through that you really get the full effect. Starting strong with 'Hysteria' then only building in both pace and intensity, not pausing until the haunting 'Song For The Godless' drops the pounding pace of the guitar but hammers twice as hard on the heart strings. Just when you think you’re getting into the rhythm, they pull a left turn and attack on a whole new front.
The back half of the album doesn’t slouch either; the penultimate track 'Echo From The Past' has one of the strongest hooks of the album and that’s no mean feat given just how catchy 'Million Lightyears' is. This is an almost perfect primer to get new fans into symphonic metal or to bring lapsed fans back into the fold, displaying every facet of the genre at its most polished and refined. Always accessible even at its most intense, this album hasn’t fallen into the trap of being overblown and pretentious, as was the hallmark of the genre a decade ago.
Losing time to this album is almost too easy, with how well it flows even as it jumps from style to style, it’s almost seamless.
'Heart of the Hurricane' is out now on Napalm