Beast In Black - 'Berserker'

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Beast In Black - 'Berserker'

There's a new beast in town, and this dark entity looks ready for battle.

Ousted from Battle Beast in 2015, whose first three albums had been entirely written by him, guitarist Anton Kabanen wasted little time in gathering a new set of like-minded musicians around him for his second bite at the beast. With former U.D.O./Amberian Dawn guitarist Kasperi Heikkinen, Wisdom bassist Máté Molnar and Brymir drummer Sami Hänninen on board, this new creature's secret weapon arrives in the shape of Wardrum singer Yannis Papadopoulos. 'Berserker' is the band's debut offering, where a collection of songs thematically based round the Japanese Manga/Anime series Berserk are interspersed by Kabanen's more personal thoughts and emotions. In itself that makes for a strangely eclectic base, and one repeated musically across the ten tracks presented. However, if you've followed the fortunes of Battle Beast through the years, then the variety of approaches may not be too much of a shock, Kabanen himself seeing Beast In Black as the logical continuation of his old band.

Knowing that first impressions last, you have to admire an opening four song salvo that simply has no interest in taking any prisoners. The band's eponymous track introducing this outfit in mighty fashion; guitars blaze and chests take a thorough beating, as Kabanen's trademark Battle Beast sound remains in evidence through the broad brushstrokes of Sabaton combining to the more refined approach of Nightwish. A beautiful, soaring voice at the beginning of 'Blind And Frozen' proves not to be a female guest vocalist, but Papadopoulos illustrating his high-end register. It's genuinely jaw-dropping, but then so is the commercially savvy Metal of the song itself, as parping synths hammer mighty riffs in place. However, it's those synths that reveal the album's other side, eighties electro drums bopping over what can only be described as the Synth Pop ideals of 'Crazy, Mad, Insane'. The vocals are again superb and yet, even with that in mind, this is throwaway nonsense that quickly outstays its welcome. Again, if you've followed Battle Beast closely over the years, then this strange interjection won't be too unfamiliar.

With a similar band logo, artwork from the same source that Battle Beast used to utilise (Roman Ismailov) and all of the double-B trademarks strongly in evidence, there's no disguising Kabanen's intentions. There's a new beast in town, and this dark entity looks ready for battle.

Steven Reid

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