Ever since their debut, Beyond the Black made quite the impact on the symphonic scene, to the point in which they became one of the most attractive line-up additions to the bigger festivals. Having the energy-driven sound of Songs of Love and Death in their arsenal, that wasn’t surprising – the combination of metal with Celtic elements (albeit nothing new in the genre) mixed with Jennifer Haben’s crystal voice, put the record above the overall lacking in quality releases of 2015.
A year later we got to hear Lost in Forever – a shaky continuation which, despite all fillers, gave a clear idea of the future direction of the band. At least until all musicians except Jennifer left, giving way to a completely new line-up to prioritize the band above all. This led to more people realizing that Beyond the Black‘s albums were not actually written by them, which makes the performers easily replaceable – both CDs are brainchildren of the scene’s go-to producer Sascha Paeth (plus some German pop music producers, who wrote most of the songs), with Jennifer’s voice remaining the only mandatory element.
The young singer is definitely the star in the third installment Heart of the Hurricane, which for the first time finds the band involved in the creative process. Just like on the previous record, the Celtic sound is minimal (except for “Song for the Godless”) in favour of bombastic metal mixed with pop. The title track, “Hysteria” and especially “Million Lightyears” (feat. guitarist Christian Hermsdörfer), are among the biggest hits in Beyond the Black‘s repertoire. Surprisingly, the most impactful tracks here are ballads; the lushed keys in “Through the Mirror” and it’s natural chorus gradation could have easily been on a Delain album, whereas “Escape from the Earth” shows that Jennifer wasn’t just blind picked to sing on Kamelot‘s Shadow Theory. The arrangement of “My God Is Dead” brings Evanescence‘s “My Immortal” to mind until the aggressive male vocals rush.
Sadly, the second half of the record is significantly weaker and repetitive, but one can easily come out with about eight overall decent songs to compensate for the less memorable Lost in Forever. Without bringing anything new to the table, Heart of the Hurricane automatically gains sympathies. Despite the massively shaken line-up, Beyond the Black finally get to use their own creative potential and stand up to their symphonic metal colleagues.