Beyond The Black

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Beyond The Black - Rebellion, Manchester (UK) - 30 October 2019

The brief five-year history of Germany's Beyond The Black has certainly been an eventful one. Bursting onto the scene with 2015's critically acclaimed debut album 'Songs Of Love And Death' resulted in an immediate high profile. This was followed a mere twelve months later with sophomore release 'Lost In Forever', but within weeks of its release news broke that the band had splintered, with only lead singer Jennifer Haben left to carry the name forward. Rumours began to circulate speculating on the nature of the first two recordings, with many intimating that it was just a Haben vehicle masterminded by Symphonic Metal guru Sascha Paeth. There is no denying the fact Haben is the BTB focal point, but the line-up now seems stabilised and is completed by Christian Hermsdorfer (guitar), Tobias Lodes (guitar), Stefan Herkenhoff (bass) and Kai Tschierschky (drums).

The show in Manchester was one of just three on the band's first UK headline tour, the others being Bristol and London. On entering the intimate Rebellion venue it was encouraging to encounter a healthy turnout. At around 8.30 the five band members took to the stage following the Rolling Stones' 'Paint It Black' intro. Launching straight into 'Hysteria', the opening track from the most recent 'Heart Of The Hurricane' album, was a clear statement of intent. Although backing tapes are used to augment the sound (the services of an onstage keyboard player have previously been utilised) there is no denying the talents of all the musicians that now fill the BTB ranks. The crystal clear mix highlighted Haben's strong voice and though her stagecraft came across as a little unsure, she was very personable and engaging. The likes of 'When Angels Fall', 'Beyond The Mirror', 'Written In Blood', 'Spiderweb Of Eyes' and personal favourite 'Running To The Edge' typify the BTB writing ethos, with crunching riffs and pounding drums acting as the platform for some immediate hooks and melodies. The heartfelt 'Unbroken' showcased Haben's quality voice and when she re-located to another area of the room alongside Hermsdorfer we were treated to acoustic versions of 'Through The Mirror', 'Song For The Godless' and Michael Patrick Kelly's 'Salve Regina'.

A short drum solo gave Haben the chance to change into something more comfortable and the band seemed to gain in confidence as the show progressed. The crowd seemed to respond in kind and during 'Heart Of The Hurricane', 'Lost In Forever', 'Shine And Shade' and 'Hallelujah' a hundred extra backing vocalists created a genuinely nice atmosphere. The two-hour, twenty-song set came to a close with 'Lost In The Shadows', and many in the crowd were clearly disappointed when the house lights came up and they were shown the door, without getting the chance to have a post-show chat with the band.

A fantastic value for money show for anyone with a penchant for female fronted Metal. On the strength of the Manchester performance there is a chance fans may be seeing Beyond The Black in a larger venue the next time they visit the UK.

Dave Bott

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