Released: 2017, Nuclear Blast
The first I’d heard of Beast in Black, my boyfriend asked me to go into his studio as he wanted to play me a song. He said “If you don’t like this then I have no idea what your musical tastes are.” When listening to new music, I like to do so without prejudice—no artwork, no photos and no video footage. I made myself comfortable and was introduced to the first single “Blind and Frozen”. Further video promotions and the second single made it clear BESERKER was a required album for the collection.
Beast in Black is a 5-member band hailing from Finland, formed by ex-Battle Beast guitarist, Anton Kabanen who wrote the songs, played guitar and keyboards for the album as well as producing it. A couple of other familiar names appear in the credits for mixing–Tero Kinnunen (he’s like an invisible member of Nightwish) and Empuu Pohjalainen from Amberian Dawn.
BERSERKER is power metal meets ‘80s pop meets the movie Split…
The opening song and second single from the album Beast in Black opens the album like any good power metal song. Power, speed, melody, neoclassical style lead break and falsetto.
Back to the song that introduced me to Beast in Black, “Blind and Frozen” I was slapped with an obligatory power metal wail, followed by female vocals I wasn’t familiar with. Great, a new female singer on the scene. While making the comments of what I was hearing, my boyfriend watched me and listened. The chorus had a second singer. It was so catchy with a hint at ‘80s Roland keyboard sequencing, I was already humming along with the melody. By the second verse, liking what I was hearing, I was ready to take a look at the band giving me ear candy. Not what I was expecting—one male singer, a Yannis Papadopoulos. I felt like I was watching a Eurovision Song Contest which has always been at the forefront of removing gender stereotypical performances.
“Born Again” might have to be my favourite song of the album with ‘80s sounding keyboards introduction and strong chorus melody.
In “Zodd the Immortal” Papadopoulos introduces us to another of his vocal personalities, Mr Growley as Beast in Black take a journey towards Judas Priest.
If Kabanen wasn’t raised by parents who forced him to listen to ‘80s pop his entire childhood, I’ll be a monkey’s aunty! Aptly named “Crazy, Sad, Insane” is a mix of Pet Shop Boys and Dead or Alive being played for a Euro dance club. The tempo, keyboard sequences and use of Simmons drums (are there any left in existence?) or samples of Simmons drums take me back to my youth in a good way. Beast in Black to represent Finland in Eurovision 2018! I cannot keep still during this song—plenty of entertainment for people as they drive past my car.
If you purchase the digibook or Japanese version, one of the bonus tracks “Hell for all Eternity”.
You can be forgiven thinking there’s been a mix up with the masters at the pressing plant when you first hear the introduction to “Eternal Fire”. I thought I was listening to Europe. Sing the chorus of Final Countdown over the chorus of “Eternal Fire” and tell me you don’t hear it.
Throughout the album, chameleon singer Papadopoulos uses the diversity in his vocal abilities to give the album the colour and contrast needed to avoid the mundane uniformity so many albums have.
The second bonus track of the album “Go to Hell” it my obvious choice to become the sing-along of live shows.
The ballad “Ghost in the Rain” complete the album. It’s a good ballad and Papadopoulos’s multi-style vocals on “Ghost in the Rain” make it sound as if there is more than one singer, including one female. I wonder if he takes on different persona’s on stage when he uses different voices, like Jacques Houdek of Croatia and 2017 Eurovision performance of “My Friend”.
As I’ve always mentioned in my reviews I don’t like albums ending in ballads as they don’t leave you with a driving urge to hit repeat on the CD player. When vinyl ruled there was a formula in which most ballads were the last track of side 1, approximately position 4 on a CD. After the ballad, you’d only heard half the album so you were obliged to turn it over. With almost everyone releasing vinyl again, I think this formula needs to revisited.
BERSERKER is the power metal album for children of the ‘80s or children whose parents grew up in the ‘80s. As a child of the ‘80s, it’s for me.