A band’s sophomore album can arguably be even more important than their debut for several reasons. When a debut is highly successful, however, it all comes down to one big question: ‘will the second album stand apart from the first one, or will the band remain as a one-hit-wonder?’ In the case of BEAST IN BLACK, the international heavy metal quintet based out of Helsinki, fans did not even have time to ask the question, since they presented the world with a follow up to their debut, ‘Berserker’, a mere fifteen months after its release.
The timing of Beast In Black’s second album, ‘From Hell With Love’, is perhaps one of the most crucial aspects to acknowledge. After the release of their debut, the band toured extensively and there was hardly a noticeable gap between that and the announcement of a new release. Where did they find the time to write, record, and create another album? This is where some people can get skeptical of the quality of a new release. However, most Beast In Black fans are aware of the immeasurable talent held by the band’s main songwriter, composer, and guitarist Anton Kabanen, who revealed in a recent interview that always thinking ahead is what made the timing of this release a successful phenomenon.
Explaining the album in just a few words is impossible. There are many elements I can pinpoint. Elements which in fact, make Beast In Black a quite unique band.
The first point I can address is the age of the sound. The overall sound of this album is a perfect embodiment of the 80s, for those of us that missed it because we were in diapers, or otherwise. With this I am not saying the album sounds dated, quite the contrary. ‘From Hell With Love’ sounds fresh, modern, but with a vintage sound that almost makes you forget what decade it is. With this album, I don’t feel like I’m listening to ‘old music’, I feel like I’m listening to something contemporary. The line between what is current and out-of-style has completely been vanished with this album.
While this album is undoubtedly 100% heavy metal, I would also like to point out the pop elements that make this album so unique. I’m not saying the album sounds pop – let me explain. Pop music, or what some refer to as bubblegum pop, contains certain elements that make it popular. Usually these include catchy melodies with memorable and relatable lyrics – sometimes even an eye-catching choreography and unforgettable music video are part of the presentation as well. Oftentimes these elements can be seen with a negative light because they can be directly correlated with what some refer to as music without substance. This is because it is uncommon for these elements to be used the way they have been used by Beast In Black, blatantly and in a very heavy metal setting – with killer guitar solos, headbanging, and freight train speeds. Maybe some glam metal bands in the 80s tried this and were successful (eg: Mötley Crüe), but the music was different and nowadays arguably sounds dated. For this album, Kabanen did an impeccable job at coordinating the good aspects of pop music and combining them with metal to create one unique signature style.
The first single of this album, ‘Sweet True Lies’, is the perfect example of this. The overall theme of the video is not necessarily the most original, but it looks fresh because of the combination of all the aforementioned elements. The director of the video, Ville Lipiäinen and his team, did an amazing job coordinating all the visual aspects and encompassing even the most minor details aesthetically, in a way where they perfectly synchronize with the song. I think anyone, no matter how bad of a day they are having, will be singing along to “Baby, baby tell me more of your lies. Say you want me for a lifetime” with big googly eyes at the sparkly sequins and flashing lights. While you’re there, you’ll also be charmed with the intriguing voice of the band’s frontman, Yannis Papadopoulos, the effortless drumming of Atte Palokangas (who also is, in my opinion, the happiest drummer of heavy metal), killer guitar work from Kabanen and Kasperi Heikkinen, tied all together with the incredible coolness and mystique of bassist Mate Molnar. This was the perfect choice for a first single indeed. Just the grand finale of that song alone proves what this album is made of.
In pop music, generally a team of songwriters write a bunch of different songs that they feel will be hits and then an artist or management shops around for the perfect song, while the original songwriter has no idea or control how the song will end up. This is the opposite for Beast In Black. In ‘From Hell With Love’, Kabanen was the main composer of the music and joined forces with Paolo Ribaldini, a Helsinki-based singer, writer, and teacher originally hailing from Northern Italy, for some of the lyrical portion. Both Kabanen and Ribaldini together did an amazing job at tailoring the lyrics to Papadopoulos’ vast, voluminous vocal range. Kabanen himself knows the musicians’ abilities very well and did the same for the musical composition portion.
In this album, I personally have no favourites. All the songs are fabulous in my book and they all bring something unique to the table. I also think that fans of less broad genres of music can also really enjoy this album – there’s something for almost anyone! Fans of classic heavy metal will love ‘No Surrender’, ‘Cry Out For A Hero’, and ‘This Is War’, while power metal fans might dig ‘Repentless’ & ‘Heart Of Steel’. Some tracks, like ‘Die By The Blade’, ‘Unlimited Sin’, and ‘True Believer’ give me an 80s Samurai/Japanese martial art movie vibe. In fact, I feel like they could have been part of the ‘Kung Fury’ soundtrack! There’s only one ballad in the whole album, that would be the amazingly executed ‘Oceandeep’, perfectly nestled halfway through the album and balancing the rest of the faster songs. The album’s title track and ‘Sweet True Lies’ are probably the catchiest and are going to be great live songs – who am I kidding, they all will be!
To answer the question mentioned above, the one that fans didn’t get to ask – will BEAST IN BLACK remain one-hit wonders? The short answer is absolutely not. I’m excited to see how the band will continue to reinvent their signature sound. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the coming years we’ll start seeing an eruption of bands trying to duplicate their sound. I see no stopping for Beast In Black, however. In short, I highly recommend this album and checking out the band live, as well as their debut album. You won’t be disappointed!
The band also released a second music video, this time for the title track of the album, which is also an excellent choice!
‘From Hell With Love’ sounds fresh, modern, but with a vintage sound that almost makes you forget what decade it is.
- Nordic Metal Review
Beast In Black did an impeccable job coordinating the good aspects of pop music and combining them blatantly in a very heavy metal setting – with killer guitar solos, headbanging, and freight train speeds – managing to create their unique, signature style. ‘From Hell With Love’ sounds fresh, modern, but with a vintage sound that almost makes you forget what decade it is.
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‘From Hell With Love’ Track List:
01. Cry Out For A Hero
02. From Hell With Love
03. Sweet True Lies
05. Die By The Blade
07. Unlimited Sin
08. True Believer
09. This Is War
10. Heart Of Steel
11. No Surrender
12. Killed By Death (MOTÖRHEAD Cover)
13. No Easy Way Out (ROBERT TEPPER Cover)