Old Season - 'Beyond The Black' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     January 21, 2018    
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An epic, Melodic Heavy Metal album.

Irish Rockers Old Season return with the release of their second full-length album 'Beyond The Black', the follow-up to 2009's 'Archaic Creation'. Since that time, the band has undergone a couple of line-up changes; original vocalist Frank Brennan and guitarist Phillip Mahony having been replaced by John Bonham and Jimmy Kiernan respectively.

The album only has nine songs, yet clocks in at over sixty-two minutes in length. OS have found their own blueprint for song-writing; slow instrumental starts developing into heavier, grandiose epics. 'A New Dawn' sets the scene, a myriad of guitar riffs courtesy of the two Jimmy's – Blanchfield and Kiernan. Unsurprisingly, the album's only sub-five minute song, 'Scavenger', has been released as the first single and it's the closest OS get to traditional, straight-ahead Metal. The album benefits from a very good production and mix, as well as a strong and powerful rhythm section courtesy of Dave Copley (bass) and Anto Walsh (drums), with the aforementioned Blanchfield and Kiernan readily trading riffs and solos, while the melodic elements arrive courtesy of Dermod Smyth's keyboards/piano and the cadence of Bonham's vocals.

'Chosen' starts with a brooding Black Sabbath (circa '13') style before gathering pace, whilst 'The Journeyman' has, in parts, an early Eden's Curse vibe. 'Rivers Of Cepha' begins with church sounding keyboards and is a little Doom Metal-like in its delivery, that is until the back end of the song where the shackles come off. 'Elegy' and 'The Void' are anything but run of the mill tracks, yet they lack the same excellence as the album's other songs. Words From Beyond...' is perhaps the most melodic song on offer. However, the standout entry is definitely the final one, 'Nevermore', where OS have taken the best parts of the previous eight songs and condensed them into one absolute epic! '

Paradoxically, to my ears, the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. By that I mean each individually song is well crafted and executed, but collectively I find the album just too long and drawn out, as well as a bit of a physical assault on the ears, despite it being peppered with quality. The latter is only my own personal point of view, and for those who enjoy this style of music, this could well be one of your albums of the year*. Old Season has, with 'Beyond The Black', produced an epic, Melodic Heavy Metal album.

Mark Donnelly

(* this review is from Fireworks Magazine #79)

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