Beast In Black - Berserker review



Reviewer:
8.8

127 users:
8.16
Band: Beast In Black
Album: Berserker
Release date: November 2017


01. Beast In Black
02. Blind And Frozen
03. Blood Of A Lion
04. Born Again
05. Zodd The Immortal
06. The Fifth Angel
07. Crazy, Mad, Insane
08. Hell For All Eternity [bonus]
09. Eternal Fire
10. Go To Hell [bonus]
11. End Of The World
12. Ghost In The Rain


Anton Kabanen has pulled a Megadeth: immediately after his unceremonious ousting from Battle Beast, he went off to form his own band (with blackjack and hookers, presumably): Beast In Black, a band that seems specifically engineered to outperform Battle Beast and tell the world how pissed off Kabanen is. Sure enough, after two years of brewing and stewing, the project's full-length debut is at hand; this strategy worked for Dave Mustaine, but has it paid off for Anton Kabanen?

I'll hold off on making any qualitative judgments on the matter of which one is the better Beast, since you people can debate that amongst yourselves and I'll probably change my mind a week after I make a decision anyway. They're quite close. What's important to us right here and now is that Beast In Black has proven to be a massively successful experiment - at least if, like me, you were waiting for a synth-laden, cliché-celebrating, I-can't-believe-it's-not-Eurovision pop metal album that would make Sabaton say, "Too commercial for us, thanks." While the eponymous opener, "Beast In Black," is a vicious and gutsy assault that could rival any power metal band for thunderous audacity, the rest of Berserker follows a more beat-happy, bombastic pop formula that Battle Beast often aimed for but didn't quite achieve until Bringer Of Pain.

Said opener is in fact so extreme in comparison that I'm almost disappointed by the direction that the second track pioneers, but even if the band's theme is the most metal tune by an enormous margin, I still fell in love with the stuff that comes after it. Beast In Black is so ultra power-style finger-lickin' cheesy that it makes Manowar look like Leonard Cohen. I don't fully understand that comparison, but I hope it helps illustrate how aggressively over-the-top this album is. I'm a sucker for this kind of catchy nonsense, so the knowledge that this band is only a few decibels away from the pop charts is more enticement than discouragement.

Where Beast In Black succeeds the most is in its sheer presence. The hot-rodded melodrama, the unabashed synthesizer saturation, and the layers on layers of vocals and orchestrations make Berserker feel as enormous and substantial as it was destined to be. The middle of the album - tracks like "Zodd The Immortal" and "The Fifth Angel" - feels underdeveloped because it eschews the heavy-handedness of the tracks that bookend Berserker. That middle portion, although still enjoyable, doesn't appear to be anything more serious than old Battle Beast filler, and exemplifies my main issue with some Battle Beast material: there's not really much to them. There's just a riff and a chorus and some wicked sick vocals, but nothing for the song to do when it's not at the good part and nowhere for the song to go once it's there. Beast In Black has fixed that problem with the drastic upswing in production and instrumentation; there's a lot more going on most of the time, or at least it sounds like there is, resulting in a more consistent and engaging landscape. Maybe the album still drags sometimes, but songs like "Blind And Frozen," "Born Again," and "End Of The World" are now essential parts of my life's musical canon.

The sky-piercing shriek towards the end of "Ghost In The Rain" drives home the point this album started making from the very first song: Yannis Papadopoulos is our next star frontman, the next favorite son of power metal whose vocals will be recalled in whispers around campfires and in legends decades from now. His voice ripples with the silky softness of a kitten when treating the delicate "Ghost In The Rain," and if you didn't know you were listening to a metallic Adonis, the first verse of "Blind And Frozen" could easily pass for Tarja herself - my dad remarked upon hearing that song, "Oh, they have a woman singer, too?" - but when he wants to, Yannis can match Anton Kabanen's blood-curdling, throat-murdering shrieks for vigor and nastiness. Yannis's versatility, energy, and ability to go even further over the top than is necessary make an irreplaceable contribution to the success of Beast In Black.

Turns out I haven't been paying attention, because "Beast In Black" is not the first song for which Anton Kabanen drew inspiration from the manga Berserk - more like the 400th. I guess I should have been tipped off by past titles like "The Band Of The Hawk," "The Black Swordsman," and "Griffith Did Nothing Wrong." The guy thanked Kentaro Miura in the liner notes. I'm an idiot. It doesn't really matter, though, because the song isn't really about Berserk; it's about how much Kabanen hates Battle Beast now, just like "Crazy, Mad, Insane" and bonus tracks "Go To Hell" and "Hell For All Eternity," and probably all the other ones if you pay close enough attention. I wasn't being entirely facetious with that first paragraph - it's clear to anyone paying attention that Beast In Black exists for the specific purpose of working through Anton's rage at his former bandmates. Do with that what you will, but "Beast In Black" went to the top of my 2017 playlist after about four seconds.

There's a lot of behind-the-scenes drama that went into the creation of this album and it does show, but as I hope I made clear, I'm rooting for both Beast In Black and Battle Beast from here on out. Both bands seem to have found their direction, so perhaps a split was the best option. Regardless, Berserker will be a tough act to follow, but I'm counting on Beast In Black to come back with another rager.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 10
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Production: 8


 



Written on 22.12.2017 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.


Comments

Comments: 12   Visited by: 237 users
23.12.2017 - 12:28
fandango68
Thanks for the effort you've put into this review SSUS, and indeed for all the work you do for this site. I came to this album via Youtube, from the relatively unusual angle of not really having any prior knowledge of Battle Beast, but tend to agree with much of what you say. It's not quite my usual thing (a little too bombastic and unashamedly commercial) but have to say it's very catchy and have chosen to file it away in my 'guilty pleasures' drawer. As a critique, you hit on some of the main points, with some tracks remaining under-developed beyond the overly catchy choruses and at times it's synth driven to within an inch of it's life, but overall it is great fun. I just wonder what we'll be saying about it in 10 years time? Can't help feeling it's an album which isn't going to age gracefully?
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First gig was Manowar (loincloths 'n' all), Bristol Colston Hall in March 1983, on the 'Hail to England' tour. Tickets were £3.75, 300 in the audience, Mercyful Fate never showed, but my hearing still got seriously trashed..
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23.12.2017 - 12:41
The Shape 1973
Sounds like the guy from Heavenly
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23.12.2017 - 13:41
The Benighted
Really wisher Berserker wasn't so misleading. Sure, the rest of the album is adequately written, but its consistency in tone gets tired really quick and, really, it's nowhere near as interesting as that initial track. How are you going to have a band called Beast In Black and then have 90% of your album be bubbly, synth heavy Europe tribute tracks?
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Learn to adapt to the change, or get washed away like tears in the rain.
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23.12.2017 - 13:59
nikarg
Old Nick
I was, like you, "waiting for a synth-laden, cliché-celebrating, I-can't-believe-it's-not-Eurovision pop metal album" You seem to like it a bit more than me though, too much cheese for my stomach to digest, but still quite enjoyable. The vocals are great.
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on and on south of heaven

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23.12.2017 - 16:19
BloodTears
ANA-thema
This album was so surprising to me. I was vaguely aware of the drama but kinda listened to the album not even thinking about that.

Berserker is so much fun if you take it for what it is. And yes, it's a lot of cheese but a good one.
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Written by BloodTears on 19.08.2011 at 18:29

Like you could kiss my ass.
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23.12.2017 - 19:29
fandango68
Written by The Shape 1973 on 23.12.2017 at 12:41

Sounds like the guy from Heavenly

Absolutely! If I hadn't seen the video, I would have sworn it was Ben Sotto...
----
First gig was Manowar (loincloths 'n' all), Bristol Colston Hall in March 1983, on the 'Hail to England' tour. Tickets were £3.75, 300 in the audience, Mercyful Fate never showed, but my hearing still got seriously trashed..
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23.12.2017 - 21:31
The Shape 1973
Written by fandango68 on 23.12.2017 at 19:29

Written by The Shape 1973 on 23.12.2017 at 12:41

Sounds like the guy from Heavenly

Absolutely! If I hadn't seen the video, I would have sworn it was Ben Sotto...

Gone back and listened to Virus now. Tasty cheese
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23.12.2017 - 22:04
ScreamingSteelUS
Editor-in-Chief
Written by fandango68 on 23.12.2017 at 12:28

Thanks for the effort you've put into this review SSUS, and indeed for all the work you do for this site. I came to this album via Youtube, from the relatively unusual angle of not really having any prior knowledge of Battle Beast, but tend to agree with much of what you say. It's not quite my usual thing (a little too bombastic and unashamedly commercial) but have to say it's very catchy and have chosen to file it away in my 'guilty pleasures' drawer. As a critique, you hit on some of the main points, with some tracks remaining under-developed beyond the overly catchy choruses and at times it's synth driven to within an inch of it's life, but overall it is great fun. I just wonder what we'll be saying about it in 10 years time? Can't help feeling it's an album which isn't going to age gracefully?

Much appreciated. That is an interesting question, and I'm torn over my answer. On the one hand, they already sound like a band out of time that's based in a sound three decades old, so maybe they'll never age, but at the same time, there's a lot of novelty and cheese that could wear off after a while. I certainly hope it doesn't lose its charm (because I do love it, as you can see), but we'll reconvene in ten years and see where things stand.
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Row, row, fight the power
Djently down the stream

I'm the Agent of Steel.
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26.12.2017 - 18:24
Nick Carter
In food terms this is a great Burger when you are really Hungry
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#MetalIsForEveryone
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29.12.2017 - 11:49
Andreas
Nice review. I thoroughly enjoy this album, even though I think it could have used a less synth-heavy song towards the end to balance things out.

Interesting that you bring up the comparison with Sabaton. I introduced this band to a forum saying that this band is like Sabaton, only with riffs and a way better singer. Don't get me wrong, I love Sabaton (and even somewhat like Carolus Rex), but musically speaking, Beast in Black blows them out of the water anytime. On the other hand, the fun factor is way lower with BiB; as you said, this album is a statement of Kabanen's anger.

Now I'm curious about Battle Beast...
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01.01.2018 - 07:36
M C Vice
Ex-polydactyl
Written by Andreas on 29.12.2017 at 11:49


Now I'm curious about Battle Beast...

Go to their self titled album.
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"Another day, another Doug."
"I'll fight you on one condition. That you lower your nipples."
"I'll put whatever I want in your mouth!"
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02.01.2018 - 12:19
Andreas
Written by M C Vice on 01.01.2018 at 07:36

Written by Andreas on 29.12.2017 at 11:49


Now I'm curious about Battle Beast...

Go to their self titled album.

Yessir.

I already kind of found out that their most interesting songs were on that album. The female lion's rack on the album cover is still haunting my nightmares though.
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