Sometimes the difference between a band’s debut and follow-up is like night and day. This is exactly the case with BEAST IN BLACK. I wasn’t really a fan of 2017’s Berserker. As I’ve said before it sounded largely like throwaway tracks from guitarist and founder Anton Kabanen’s old band. BATTLE BEAST Lite if you will. The keyboards overpowered everything, and one listen was enough. Fast forward to now, and From Hell With Love (out now, Nuclear Blast Records). Boy, things are a lot better this time around. The choruses are still plenty catchy, and the band has wisely chosen to put the guitars much higher up in the mix, while they work in tandem with the aforementioned keys. New drummer Atte Palokangas is a fine addition as well.
Vocalist Yannis Papadopoulos continues to shine and he really delivers on the opening trio of tunes with “Cry Out For a Hero”, “From Hell With Love”, and gets-stuck-in-your-head-for-days “Sweet True Lies.” Kabanen and rhythm guitarist Kasperi Heikkinen sound like they’re having the time of their lives, while bassist Máté Molnar oils the machinery and keeps the groove tight. The hammer swings down for “Repentless”, quite possibly the heaviest track on the disc. This is also one of several where you might ask yourself, “Wait…who’s the girl singing?” at certain points. Papadopoulos can definitely sound like a woman at times, but hey, that’s simply a testament to his range, right? I’m just fine with it.
The first number that graced my ears was “Die By the Blade,” and I wasn’t quite sold at first, but then that hook wormed its way into my brain and it wound up becoming one of my favorites. I think my runaway #1 has to be “Unlimited Sin” though. It’s got such a killer groove and would be equally at home in a metal club or pumping out of the speakers in a Berlin dance club. You can’t help but bop along when you hear it. “True Believer” is a fun little ditty, albeit just a bit cheesy. Obviously there’s gonna be cheese all over this thing, but this one was a bit much. It’s not bad by any means, just not as strong as other ones. Meanwhile “This Is War” is damn near as heavy as “Repentless”, so that was a welcome addition.
The album closes with a pair of anthems in “Heart of Steel” and “No Surrender”, two songs that will have audiences rocking, heads banging, and chests thumping, especially the latter. The band was determined to give us one last shredder to finish us off, and man it’s fucking great! Especially the guitar solos, yikes! All told THIS is the BEAST IN BLACK I was hoping for from the beginning. Balance the riffs, hooks, keys, and cheese, mix well, and voilà, a great batch of songs! Consider me sold. From Hell With Love is a tremendous step forward from a band who I can only see getting better and better the longer they’re together.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “No Surrender”, “Unlimited Sin”, “From Hell With Love’, “Sweet True Lies”, “Heart of Steel”, “Die By the Blade”