• Infuriating background story but addicting songs - A review of Beyond the Bölack's "Lost in Forever"

    Beyond the Black - Lost in Forever (2016)

    I got a lot of angry feedback regarding my review for Beyond the Black's debut record Songs of Love and Death because I called this band an exchangeable plastic product centered around an egoistic singer who had already started her career in a teenage pop band at the tender age of fifteen. Some people told me that my judgement was too harsh and unprofessional, others said I shouldn't review this kind of music and go listen to something else and others said I should give this band another chance. Recently, a close friend of mine spoke positively of this band and a close family member even bought the new album and was very enthusiastic about it. I'm always open to change my mind, so here I am giving Beyond the Black a second chance.

    First things first, everything I mentioned in my first review proved to be absolutely right. Even though the cover of the album seems to suggest that Beyond the Black is a real band and not only centered around singer Jennifer Haben, the lead vocalist decided to kick her whole band out shortly after the release of this record. The five men that had helped her kickstart her career weren't allowed to make any comments and Jennifer Haben herself justified this split by saying that Beyond the Black was her baby and nobody else's. She started auditions to chose new associates soon after the album was released. These events only prove that Beyond the Black was never a band but a plastic product centered around an overambitious woman who used her bandmates for her very own purposes. A closer look at the line-up for this release even reveals that the former band members weren't much involved in the creative process of this album. A total of sixteen guest musicians and singers participated, including big names such as Herbie Langhans, Sascha Paeth, Michael Rodenberg, Amanda Somerville and Cloudy Yang. All these people have been involved in Tobias Sammet's Avantasia project which can also be described as an assimilation compilation rather than an actual band with heart and soul. In order to raise sales figures even further, the tour edition of this record, released in two different versions less than a year after the original release, includes the Official Wacken Hymn 2015 as well as the song for a German movie called "Die Ketzerbraut" that received massive airplay and promotion and which features Jennifer Haben as a side character. Beyond the Black has become a prime example for aggressive capitalism, clever marketing strategies and plastic pop disguised as symphonic metal.

    As much as any fan of authentically crafted music with heart and soul should despise the story behind Beyond the Black, this review only takes the final product into consideration. From that point of view, Lost in Forever is an improvement over Songs of Love and Death. While the predecessor openly copied bands such as Within Temptation, the sophomore output has a more authentic and distinctive sound centered around Jennifer Haben's soft, emotional and catchy vocals. It's also obvious that a lot of genre experts were involved in the creative process of this record because nearly every song has a catchy hook that would make for a great single with a lot of radio airplay. One can't deny that the songwriting is very professional and will attract new fans to the band, especially younger female audiences who can identify with the lyrics and image of the band. The atmospheric, bombastic and dramatic opening title track "Lost in Forever" won't get out of your mind. Up next comes a melodramatic duet with Masterplan's Rick Altzi whose raw and romantic vocals harmonize very well with Jennifer Haben's enchanting performance in "Beautiful Lies". "Halo of the Dark" comes around with campfire acoustic guitars and dreamy orchestrations to evolve into an emotional gothic ballad for rejected loners. Again, this type of music isn't anything new and reminds me of Evanescence and similar acts fifteen years earlier but the songs are more focused, skilled and unique than the material on the predecessor and Jennifer Haben slowly develops her own style. Lost in Forever loses steam towards the end and has some repetition here and there as seventeen or even just thirteen tracks are a little bit too much to keep a constant quality level. On the other side, I have to admit that the album is listenable and even features a handful of truly well-crafted tracks.

    It's up to you to decide whether you want to support a commercial plastic product like Beyond the Black. Concerning the music however, Beyond the Black delivers a very solid job. If you like melodic symphonic metal or commercial gothic metal in the key of early Evanescence and Within Temptation, you will love Lost in Forever. Since bands of this type have become a rarity or have lost their quality nowadays, Beyond the Black has spotted a market niche and receives more attention than it actually deserves.

    Final rating: 70%

    Beyond the Black - Lost in Forever (2017 German Tour Edition)

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