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. Continue reading “Beyond The Black – Heart Of The Hurricane Review”
Oh yes, albums like “Chasing The Sun” are exactly why I am doing what I am doing here. To pick a bone with people who absolutely deserve it. The pain I am feeling when listening to this album is almost mitigated by the joy of writing about it. How much does it say about an album when it is written about in the local newspaper (you know, this thick stack of papers old people receive in their analogue mail daily)? Let’s just say, in Mr. Bay’s case, it puts the album on equal footing with similarly heinous “music” outputs, of which the latter usually get played on the radio. I hope nothing of the sort for Chris Bay as he might feel endorsed in his endeavors.
Now, this is of course the Chris Bay of Freedom Call fame. A man who is known throughout the power metal scene and beyond. Within the scene famous for classic albums such as “Stairway To Fairyland”, “Eternity” and “Crystal Empire”, which could very well be on par with legendary albums released by Gamma Ray or Helloween. Outside the scene rather infamous than famous, Freedom Call and Mr. Bay are often mocked for their happy-go-lucky melodic metal. If you are one of the people who can’t take Freedom Call serious with their “childish” melodies, “Chasing The Sun” will make you puke rainbows – out of your ass. And that is not a compliment as I would give to Freedom Call being a huge fan of their music.
“Chasing The Sun” sports such intriguing song titles as “Light My Fire”, “Radio Starlight”, “Hollywood Dancer” and my favorite – “Bad Boyz”. Gee, watch out! Some particular notes: “Bad Boyz” is anything but, starting off with the kind of pretend-metal riff used in pop music to sham heaviness. Lady Gaga likes to use those. But hey, she’s a real metal fan, which can’t be said about Chris Bay after listening to the atrocities he is degrading himself and the music to. I think the biggest attack of second-hand embarrassment overwhelmed me when I listened to “Light My Fire”. It takes a special kind of cringe to open a song with “When I got my first kiss (…) / It was love, love, love, I remember the taste”.
The worst offenders (in an eleven-song pool of offenders) are probably “Radio Starlight” and “Hollywood Dancer”, which were coincidentally unleashed pre-album release as video singles. If you want to replicate the authentic goosebumpy feeling you get shortly before your head is hanging over the toilet, dare to head over to youtube and search the song titles (I’m not going to contaminate the site with this). Granted, it’s not half as bad only listening to the audio, but lines like “Oh-oh / I play a song / and the world can sing along / sing la-la-la / turn the radio on” still are worse than spending two hours stuck in an elevator. Of course you can force yourself to sing along, but that will result in mad grinning, foam at your mouth and a not-so-short visit to your next hospital. Alternatively, you can enjoy this piece of music when you are drunk enough to not be able to differentiate between standing up and lying on the floor.
You can tell me many things about this album, and I will laugh at them, but one thing you can’t tell me seriously is that this is a passion project. Songs like “Radio Starlight” and the accompanying music videos just showcase the disgusting desire for radio play. I feel bad calling Chris Bay a sellout because I really am a big Freedom Call supporter, but nothing about “Chasing The Sun” feels genuine or heartfelt. Much like Hollywood, it is a big game of pretend trying to hide the pile of shit behind all the fake. I couldn’t understand why a distinguished songwriter as Chris Bay would touch on such basic lyric concepts as being played on the radio and the other abominations you find on this album. It’s either about being famous or about love. Sure, the latter is a fine topic to write about, but the former is just terribly pretentious and plastic. So, my conclusion is, considering Chris Bay‘s age (49) and experience in both life and music, that this is his try at mainstream fame. No one as smart (I guess?) as Mr. Bay could pass songs like “Radio Starlight” off as anything else than cheap songs pandering to the mainstream. This whole album sounds like Max Martin wrote it. Predictable, complacent, smooth, clean, well-produced and above all boring.