BY: TJ Fowler
Label: Nuclear Blast
Power metal has really struggled for the better part of a decade and half with, in my opinion, being distinctive and creative. While usually the vocalists in such bands have high octaves and range and the guitarists can solo and noodle…the songs themselves always were very barebones, one note droning with little to no melody hooks and double bass drumming with no variation while the singer just sings over everything. Long gone are the days where bands like ACCEPT, Helloween, Manowar, Hammerfall and old Blind Guardian were at the forefront of the genre. So to be a power metal band and distinct is a major feat these days.
Then along came a band called Battle Beast that I felt really encapsulated what power metal should be and could be and I felt they had the genre in the palm of their hands. That was until and ugly breakup with founding member of Anton Kabanen and the rest of the band ruined that opportunity and future.
This left the main and only songwriter of that band out on his own and on a mission to put together another band. The result of this is the multi-national band Beast in Black which has members from Finland, Greece and Hungary. The first output from this conglomeration is the album ‘Berserker’. From the start it is obvious Anton and Company have set out on a mission to prove themselves as stand outs in the power metal genre.
The main strengths of ‘Berserker’ are first and foremost the amazing vocals of Yannis Papadopoulos. His amazing skills are most evident on the amazing ‘Blind and Frozen’ song where his voice soars higher than I would think humanly possible but also can go low and have a gritty metal vibe. All the while everything remains in control and fits the music and lyrics fantastically.
This leads to the second part of the album I feel is its strongest point, the melodies and musical composition of the songs. While one of the greatest weaknesses of power metal is very little musical variation until a solo i.e. one note shredding, this weakness is to a minimum (or at least not used to just be lazy) on ‘Berserker’ thanks to the great songwriting on Anton Kabanen. While Anton is a fan of power metal he is also first and foremost a fan of well written songs and composition. I think part of this is due to his appreciation of music outside of power metal such as musical composers of film soundtracks who can not rely solely on one note monotony for entire compositions. Lyrically, Anton is also very skilled in his writing and he knows how to make it all fit together coherently.
This isn’t to say there isn’t a few of the power metal weaknesses that crop up here in there on the album but they are minimal and even then there is still a lot of depth to the bands talent and musicianship from all members of the band.
If you are a fan of power metal but feel the genre has become stale, Beast in Black’s ‘Berserker’ should reawaken your interest in the genre. The album is energetic and has some great classic tunes on it. If anything you should listen to it for Yannis’s vocals alone. The man must be part alien to have a range like he does. Hopefully it didn’t take an anal probe to get that voice!