Beyond Twilight - Section X
With all the zillions of bands out there, occasionally you'll run
across a band that's been around for a while that you've never had the
opportunity to hear. Seriously, there is no way that any one person can really know about every great metal band that is out there. There are some that try...and believe me...I'm working on it too. But this particular band is a prime example of a band that I completely missed with their first release and now I'm just now hearing their second and third releases for the first time. What I have here is Beyond Twilight's sophomore album, Section X. To say that this is a masterpiece of progressive metal is probably one of the biggest understatements of all time.
This Scandinavian band is headed by keyboardist, Finn Zierler, who has wrote each of the bands albums in complete solitude and under some extremely strange conditions...like sitting in the burning sand of the Sahara desert, inside the cold caves of the Atlas Mountains, locking himself in an attic, submerging himself under water in a cold lake, or living on the dark streets of a London town. However he is doing it though...call it strange and call it weird, but gosh it sure does work!
To describe this band's sound is somewhat complicated. While you can hear many similarities from other bands, Beyond Twilight brings a
uniqueness all their own. I think the closest comparison would be a darker and more eccentric Symphony X. However, that still doesn't really pin down their sound. They are progressive metal for sure and prog freaks should be all over this. However, their bombastic songs have such wonderful melodies and catchiness at times that power metal fans will eat this up as well. They can go from wickedly dark and aggressive to soft and beautiful without it sounding forced or awkward at all. These songs are very well-written and the music is played to utter perfection, so that everything sounds exactly as it should. I can see this band appealing to a wide range of fans from Symphony X, to Shadow Gallery, to Dream Theater, to Balance of Power, to maybe even some fans of progressive death metal...even though the band has no death vocals.
Speaking of vocals, the singer for this album is Kelly Sundown Carpenter, who is new to the band on this album. Since I haven't heard the first album, I can't really compare the two, but Carpenter's vocals here are nothing short of impressive. He can get down and dirty and in your face or he can effortlessly soar to the highest heights. His voice conveys passion, anger, and urgency, and I couldn't see any other vocalist being a better fit for this band. The album also contains some breathtaking choir vocals and guest vocals by Truls Haugen on "Sleeping Beauty" and Michael Eriksen on "The Dark Side", and both gents do a fabulous job and provide great contrasts with Carpenter's vocals.
As I said earlier, musically this band is incredible! While this band is fronted by a keyboardist and while there are a ton of keys on this
disc, do not think you are getting the cheese that you get with some "stuck in the '80's" prog bands or "over the top" power metal bands. Finn Zierler has to be one of the best keyboardists out there. And while he writes songs with lots of keys, he knows his place in this style of music and somehow places them perfectly in every instance in ways that complete the songs. The rest of the band amazes from start to finish as well, with the two guitarists, Kragh and Hansen, stealing the show often with their fascinating mixture of crushing heaviness, melody, and soaring leads.
Not stopping at just good music, the production on this disc is awesome. You can crank this puppy till your ears start bleeding and you'll
love every step of the journey. The artwork is elaborate and very well done, although I could've done without the very revealing/borderline nude female artwork. Oh...then there are the lyrics. This album is a concept album that would definitely fall under the sci-fi/horror category. Truthfully, I would have had no idea what the lyrics were about by just reading them. But the band offers a very detailed explanation of the concept in the CD booklet that allows you to piece things together easier. For those who want to know, there are a couple instances of swearing and a few somewhat sex-slanted lyrics on a few songs, but nothing overly graphic.
Packaging and lyrical annoyances aside, this is one mind-blowing album! Section X is one of the best progressive metal discs I have heard in a long time....along with their third release, which I will be reviewing soon. This band is the real deal and how they are not more well-known and talked about is hard to believe. In my opinion, they are every bit as good as the bands I compared them to earlier. This is an album that you will love from the very first spin. And it will continue to unfold and get better with each listen as well.
Review By: Matt Morrow
Label: Nightmare Records/Massacre Records
Total Songs: 8
Total Time: 44:44
Tracklisting: 1. Be Careful, It's My Head Too, 2. The Path of Darkness, 3. Shadow Self, 4. Sleeping Beauty, 5. The Dark Side, 6. Portrait F in Dark Waters, 7. Ecstasy Arise, 8. Section X.
Best Songs: Tracks 3, 5, & 7.
Band Lineup: Jacob Hansen - Rhythm Guitars, Anders Devillian Lindgren - Bass, Anders Exo Kragh - Rhythm, Lead, & Acoustic Guitars, Tomas Freden - Drums, Kelly Sundown Carpenter - Vocals, Finn Zierler - Keyboards.
Band Website: http://www.beyondtwilight.com