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Beyond the Dream is an excellent example of how a great band trying to evolve slowly slides into the mire of effete metal waste. Their first EP was like a gust of refreshing cold wind as it defined their own unique rough gothic black/death style. The debut LP was the same yet slightly more polished. It is the following album on which some weak but unpleasant sweetness could be sensed. But don't get me wrong, While the World Sleeps is still a very good one.
And now we are given a weird messy record, seemingly the material taken from two EPs representing different musical genres. Tracks 1, 2, 5, 6, 7 make the shit progressive rock EP while tracks 3, 4, 8, 9, 10 are included in the good, gothic metal one. It is exactly fifty-fifty, which means that BTD are halfway down into the mire now.
The latter EP is just BTD from their previous album. Delicate, atmospheric keyboards, fleshy riffs, vivid drumming, especially on track 8 (Rolf Pilve filled the shoes of Ville Silvast well) and what I've always liked most about this band - clearly audible, dynamic and forceful bass. Two songs deserve to be singled out. The first is For the Reignited Sun (4th) - very beautiful, rather a sedate but strangely stirring piece; its cold fingers touching the marrow. Otto does his best here and Harri almost s i n g s (wow!). The other one, Death, I Am Death (9th), is relatively energetic but by no means cheerful. The guitar sound is very pronounced and heavy but supported by keyboards flows smoothly and melodiously. Also the music video made for it deserves a mention. It has kind of a vintage feeling and in an exceptionally charming way shows some backstage moments of the band members. I've never seen anything like that.
Now let's take the shit EP. Its main faults are pointless experimenting and borrowing from other genres. Track 5 is too fast. I thought that my CD player was broken until I realized that in fact everything went too fast except for vocals. Harri tries to catch up with the music but fails. Track 2 is a bit thrashy and Harri's vocals do not fit thrash metal at all; track 6 has a surprising stoner beginning and, above all, there's too much jazz everywhere - the parts with the bass guitar in the foreground are in fact pure jazz. Even Harri irritates me. I've always enjoyed his manner of doing vocals because it was extraordinary growled melodeclamation. Unfortunately, here it has lost its fluency and became affected monotonous chanting.
And, to top it all, keyboards here are simply horrible. When they do not sound jazzy, they sound like taken from a dancing party for the elderly people in the 1960ties. Take track 1 where one has to endure an absolutely awful piercing synth leitmotiv. On track 4 (see above) keyboards play exactly the same role but how different they are! I've always been of the opinion that the keyboards' use in the field of death metal usually does more harm than good. BTD has long been an exception together with Norther and Swallow the Sun. Aleksi Munter, I love you. Tuomas Planman, I love you. You've never spoiled a song. Otto, you've been the third one. Until now.
I remember that at the time the band worked on this album I saw an entry on their Twitter saying that they loved the new HIM's studio album (Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice). I like HIM and I've considered it a decent gothic rock/metal (feel free to laugh, I don't care). But this very album is... uh, I don't know, progressive electrojazzpop? Whatever. The fact is that I almost vomited when trying to go through it. If this was an inspiration for In the Heart of Nothing... well, it would explain a lot.
I'm really curious what Beyond the Dream do next; whether they decide to take a step back into their old style (my wishful thinking) or to continue the retreat from metal. Because now they are precisely in the heart of nothing.