Beast Reborn? German heavy metal outfit Mob Rules surely hasn’t been gone long enough to warrant a whole relaunch; as such the new album’s title is more of a reinforcement than a comeback promise. After all, the band’s previous album was released in 2016 and received phenomenally by both press and fans. Rightly so, as Mob Rules evolved and matured their sound greatly over their now 20+ years career. With their first few albums the Germans started out as a rather traditional power metal constellation in the vein of Helloween with melodious guitar leads and heavy keyboard influences.
After their more experimental, progressive 2006 album Ethnolution A.D. they turned around their sound quite literally heavily into a heavier, progressive direction. With the recent albums and the new one, fans and critics have pointed out some Iron Maiden references, and while that is true for some songs like last album’s “Dykemaster’s Tale” and this album’s “Traveller In Time” among others, Mob Rules have mostly honed their own niche in progressive power metal. It’s more power than prog for sure, but the heavy European keyboard overlays are gone for good in favor of punching guitar riffs and driving drums.
“Ghost Of A Chance”, the opener and first single of Beast Reborn, is one of the few signs of what Mob Rules used to sound like. It’s a pretty classic power metal track with an anthemic chorus and high speed energy, even though it is audibly a “new” Mob Rules song as characterized by the focus on riffs rather than virtuose melodies. This mix of the band’s styles throughout history is lacking on other songs of Beast Reborn, be it positive or negative. It depends on your preferences.
The album’s highlights are found in the more complex, longer songs. The aforementioned “Traveller In Time” reminds highly of Iron Maiden epics, the same is true for “War Of Currents”, a song about Thomas Edison; another track in the long installation of historic characters focused Mob Rules songs. This one sounds a bit forced with awkward lyrical choices in places and an excessive usage of a historic recording which is sampled twice in the song. Sampling those recordings is a bad idea in my mind anyway, as it sounds cool and dramatic at first, sure, but with time it just gets ridiculous and superficial.
Not all compositions are as amazing as the catchy and/or challenging songs like “Ghost Of A Chance”, Sinister Light”, “Traveller In Time” or “Children’s Crusade”. “The Explorer” and “Shores Ahead” for example sound like just another Mob Rules track abiding their new formula. To an extent, this is true for most of the songs on this album, even though most tracks still manage to sound fresh and exciting with some compositional twists and turns. Overall, the album sounds a bit cold and generic compared to earlier releases. Band and singer Klaus Dirks (who is great) do an incredible job as always, but that’s just what it sounds like – as always. Surely Beast Reborn could have done with some more spice or feeling. Mob Rules fans will enjoy it – I do – but I don’t think it will be rotating for a long time after release, it gets dull quickly. Still, Mob Rules put out quality release after release and surpass 90% of the heavy metal records with their albums routinely.