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Formerly of Battle Beast until his departure in 2015, guitarist Anton Kabanen formed the similarly monikered Beast in Black shortly thereafter. A debut album, 'Berserker', appeared in 2017, and now we have their sophomore full-length studio offering, 'From Hell With Love'. With a multi-national lineup, the band also features Hungarian bassist Máté Molnár from Wisdom (in which Kabanen is also a member); Greek vocalist Yannis Papadopoulos, formerly of prog metallers Until Rain; and fellow Finns, Thunderstone drummer Atte Palokangas and guitarist Kasperi Heikkinen. I missed Beast in Black's debut, so here I am, dipping my toes into their music for the first time...

What we have here is something of a hybrid, that contains elements of traditional heavy metal, hard rock, melodic AOR and bursts of power metal. And a lot of energy! It's derivative, for sure, but actually fairly addictive stuff. This has the pulling power of finely conceived and crafted melodic allure, which has certainly had me ensnared with its charms. It's all very likeable from the off... so much so, that I do question the repeat playability value of instantly accessible albums. I mean, how many times can you play immediately likeable tracks before they start to lose their potency through overexposure and overfamiliarity? I might be proven wrong and, either way, there are some seriously anthemic tunes on 'From Hell With Love', that'll no doubt take on a whole new life in a live context.

This is not merely a nostalgic-coated outing... it's literally dripping with nostalgically conceived pastiche during each and every bar of music. And dripping with cheese! For example, plenty of cheesy 80s keyboard sounds rear their head, both fused within the instrumentations and in isolation, which, I have to say, conjure images of some sort of glammed up hair metal act. The intro to the title track is one such piece. But it all works ever so well. It's where well-written songs transcend their cheesy foundations, whereby their essence resides within the compositions themselves rather than the cheesy sounds with which they've been infused.

There are 'stomp' styled rhythms that characterise many of the songs, which provide a vibrant immediacy, that'll undoubtedly propel mosh pit action at their shows. And the anthemic nature of the tracks will undoubtedly impel crowds to sing-along en masse. This is rock/metal for sheer entertainment, much in the same way of Sweden's H.E.A.T... but we're talking more of a metal bias here. However, the more AOR/hard rock inspired tracks, such as 'Sweet True Lies' and 'Die By the Sword' do actually invoke strong flavours of H.E.A.T. But jeez, what's going on with 'Repentless'? Surely not more 'Wishmaster' pastiche? Yep, they've borrowed from the perennial Nightwish classic, just as Bloodbound did on the title track for their 2017 album, 'War of Dragons', although not quite as obviously as the Swedes did.

I'm not entirely sure about the cover art, I have to say. It's the kind of thing you'd expect to find on the living room wall of Jed Maxwell, Alan Partridge's number one fan and number one stalker. No doubt it'll excite some fourteen year olds somewhere, but, aesthetically, it's what was rife in the 80s, and it really is a tired old anachronism in the twenty first century. Fortunately, though, when it comes to the songs, they've crafted 80s rock/metal idioms into a rather entertaining whole, so there's nothing tired about their music.
Nuclear Blast
Review by Mark Holmes
8th February 2019
1) Cry Out for a Hero
2) From Hell with Love
3) Sweet True Lies
4) Repentless
5) Die by the Blade
6) Oceandeep
7) Unlimited Sin
8) True Believer
9) This is War
10) Heart of Steel
11) No Surrender
"This is not merely a nostalgic-coated outing... it's literally dripping with nostalgically conceived pastiche during each and every bar of music."