Released: 2006, SPV
Tim “Ripper” Owens hasn’t exactly had the long and storied career one would expect from a singer with such talent. With that amazing voice of his “Ripper” has been more or less toiling with mediocre releases for the majority of his career, barring the obvious underrated classic status of Winters Bane’s HEART OF A KILLER. Everyone knows, or should know, Tim’s back story and biography by now so it’s kind of useless to go into it at this point but we’ll just say that after Winters Bane Tim lead (well, not really) a limping Judas Priest into the new millennium before joining Iced Earth, who seems to be on life support as it is.
So with only 4 prior albums under his belt, 3 of them being pretty sub par by my standards, I shouldn’t have been expecting much from Tim’s new band, Beyond Fear, especially when taking into consideration Tim’s extracurricular activities while he was in Judas Priest (Tim fronted a mallcore cover band…). Still though, I found myself very interested to hear what Tim could produce on his own, without jumping into a pre-established band/sound because with the right foundation the sky is the limit for Tim, at least musically. So with Beyond Fear’s debut release in my stereo what was I in for?
One musical punch to the face, that’s what Beyond Fear delivers. Tim’s new band has taken traditional metal and fused it with some elements from modern heavy music (elements of metalcore show up here and there, as well as modern rock…) making an impeccably impressive listen. Beyond Fear’s debut album isn’t revolutionary in the slightest, since one can draw comparisons between this release and Halford’s CRUCIBLE as well as Bruce Dickinson’s “Chemical Wedding” in some ways but I’ll be damned if this isn’t just as enjoyable. The album keeps a lot of heavy, aggressive, and modern riffing but still keeps that traditional metal sense of melody and structure. For instance, the opening track, “Scream Machine”, sounds pretty thrashy and modern yet one can find many similarities between a song like this and your faster Judas Priest tracks, in fact, it actually kicks off the album in close to the same manner as Halford’s “Resurrection” kicked off his debut solo disc. Instantly people who doubted Tim’s ability to effectively front a band should fall silent…
“And… You Will Die” kicks off, at least slightly, Lamb of God-esque with the guitars taking a straight chugging sound and drums backing them up before opening into a mid-paced crunching riff filled with many gaps which “Ripper” uses to sing straight through, holding syllables throughout and jumping from his rough lows to piercing highs. While it holds no surprises, it is simple and fun. “Save Me” is a track that, without a good melody and/or vocalist, would have drowned in, what is a very generic modern start/stop riff and backing music but the vocal is what makes the song and gives it enough energy to power through and it really grabbed me, especially when the screams come in right near the end. A song like “The Human Race” works well as another up tempo track in the vein of the opener but it really loses steam during the breakdown/mosh section what with it’s too Killswitch Engage to be Killswitch Engage mosh riff with simple lead guitar run thrown over top. The more hard rock tinged side of the band plays out in the upbeat march of “Coming at You. Tim’s vocals reel things in near the end though with that godly scream, “IT’S COMING AT YOU!!!”
Beyond Fear’s debut release has little depth, not all that much variety, and some heavy modern influences and yet it’s an incredibly enjoyable listen. It took far too long for Tim to get on the right track musically and I can only hope that Beyond Fear becomes a long running band because there’s obviously a bright future for this straight ahead modern heavy metal outfit.