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A few surprises, but not wholly unexpected. - 84%

hells_unicorn, March 5th, 2012

My biggest gripe about super bands (among others of course) is that they don’t really have much in the way of longevity. This is unfortunately primarily because the clashing of egos that goes into a given multi-star project can create some pretty interesting music. Fresh off a stint through most of the 90s with Helloween and a short-lived collaboration with his former band mate from said band Roland Grapow, Uli Kusch embarked on the first of what would be many single album ventures with various groups of established names, as if trying to compete with Chitty Somapala and Mike Terrana over who could be the biggest session musician whore to be frequently considered a full time member at the time.

Among the better of Uli’s several projects since his 2005 split with Masterplan is Beautiful Sin, a seeming one time only affair that brought him into collaboration with 2 familiar names from Pagan’s Mind, resulting in an album that sounds pretty close to a perfect 50/50 hybrid of said band’s work and 90s post-Kiske Helloween. It has that mixture of 80s mainline rock characteristics that was common to later 80s Queensryche, particularly in keyboard usage and general atmosphere, along with a shot of up-tempo grooving that is more a staple of German power metal. To put it another way, this is along similar lines to that of Ride The Sky, but a bit more adventurous.

While all members in congress are top notch musicians, the one who actually steals most of the show is vocalist Magali Luyten, whose work is the only that I am not immediately familiar with. Breaking ranks with all of the operatically influenced types that started pouring into the scene after the success of Nightwish and Dark Moor, but also the somewhat pop diva-like character of the gothic scene, her voice exudes a rugged, gravely feel that is more in line with an old-guard heavy metal vocalist along the lines of Doro Pesch. This vocal quality provides an interesting contrast from the very smooth and sleek character of the music, which has a pretty heavy keyboard presence and a processed guitar and drum sound that sets this band apart from most other female fronted bands that go the traditional metal route or the symphonic one.

Perhaps the only thing that kind of holds this thing back a bit is that a lot of the material comes off as an afterthought to Uli’s previous works. Indeed, the lead off song “Lost” is a revamped version of a Helloween song off “The Dark Ride”, and although Magali’s voice is a world away from Andi Deris and the production is less bottom heavy, it’s not hard to hear where the riffs and melody came from. But the parallels don’t end there, as “Take Me Home” and “I’m Real” get dangerously close to outright reliving some of the material on the Masterplan debut. The influence of Jørn Lofstad’s guitar tone tempers the familiarity factor a bit, but largely leads slower progressive infused songs like “The Spark Of Ignition” and “Brace For Impact” a heavy dose of “Enigmatic: The Calling” characteristics, which is further bolstered by a good number of quirky techno keyboard elements.

Anyone who has followed the power and progressive sub-genre of metal to any extent, but particularly those who have taken a liking to Lance King’s various projects or that of current Pagan’s Mind should look into this album as a slightly simpler alternative to what they normally consumer. It’s more traditional than it is progressive, but it is definitely a bit more adventurous than the typical power metal outfits that Uli has been involved with. Maybe one day when Mr. Kusch gets tired of releasing single albums with different name monikers on them he’ll get this flock back together and put out another album. Yeah, and maybe I’ll get a reservation on the first moon base.

Promising project - 72%

kluseba, October 17th, 2010

"The unexpected", well, it is true that you can't expect that you only have thirty-three minutes of a brand new band's music if you buy an album at the full price. If we don't consider the Japanese and European bonus tracks on the limited edition (that I wasn't able to purchase when I was once looking for this album) as well as two experimental instrumental tracks that are surely well done but still two fillers and the first song "Lost" that is a remake or cover version of Helloween's "The departed (sun is going down)", you do not even have thirty-three minutes of music on this album.

And that's a sad thing because this group is quite interesting. Singer Magali Luyten doesn't sound like an average gothic opera singer, but she has a very unique, charismatic and powerful voice. With Axel Mackenrott, the band has surely a brilliant keyboarder who is doing an excellent job throughout the whole album and has the biggest presence on the record, maybe even a little bit too much with the two instrumental tracks. Jorn Viggo Lofstad plays some very harmonic and melodic guitar chords and is doing a very well job but nothing unexpected. The bass player Steinar Krokmo isn't that much audible and less convincing. The greatest deception is maybe the work of Uli Kusch who has proven in his career that he is able to write excellent and catchy songs and do a very unique and tight drumming, but he put many fillers on the album of his new project and doesn't do something particular surprising or innovating on this album.

Well, the thirty-three minutes that are left on this album presents mostly very good material. The most surprising thing is that here is not even a filler track within this material. There are a few surprising and diversified songs like "The spark of ignition" with interesting sounds and changes in style, classical symphonic power metal songs like the very catchy but not that original "This is not the original dream" or heavier stuff like the quite interesting and unusual "Pechvogel". "Metalwaves" is a majestic and heavy hymn that combines the diversified styles and sounds that the band presented before towards the end of the album.

If the band would have decided to create some more songs, forget about the instrumental fillers and the cover version, this album could have been a successful killer record. The talent is surely there and the band has already found a certain personal style and doesn't sound exactly like anything else. This album could please to symphonic metal and gothic fans, but also to fans of power metal or even good hard rock. There are a lot of fan bases to reach with this record but it is a sad thing that the band has only a project character and that the musicians didn't take the time to focus on larger and better song writing. This album came out more than four years ago and since then, we didn't hear anything new or interesting from the band and this is a sad thing. I would especially have liked to hear more from Magali Luyten and Axel Mackenrott and also from Uli Kusch who has somehow gone down under after this record. Let's hope that he didn't forget about this interesting project he began.

This first album makes me hope that there is more to come from this band even if I can't give such a high rating for the whole work because of its short length and some filler material.

Debuts don't get much better - 94%

John_Crichton, June 3rd, 2006

Beautiful Sin is a criminally unknown band. How they manage to stay relatively shrouded among Heavy/Power metal fans is beyond me. This album is pure gold. Track after track ceasing to amaze me, each containing what is required for a great song.

The very first track “Lost” is a cover of the Helloween song “The Departed”. The Helloweeen version is a good song, but this is one of the rare instances where the cover completely blows the original away. Starting off very similar, the song quickly establishes itself as it’s own entity. Megali’s vocals are so much more powerful that those of Ando Deris it isn’t even funny. Roland Grapow’s guitar arrangement remains relatively the same, but packs much more punch this time around as Jorn Viggo Lofstad hammers it out.

The lyrics for the song itself were changed, and they work better than the originals. Megali’s voice was tailored for this. It doesn’t get any better. 10/10

The next track “This Is Not The Original Dream” keeps the album on a roll. Jorn quickly marks his territory on the album with his kickass guitar work. Megali shows her vocals prowess, staying far, far away from the likes of Tarja and those in the “metal opera” business. Uli Kusch keeps the guitars company with some great drumming. Another outstanding track. 9/10

“Take Me Home” opens with a keyboard solo and quickly hammers into a guitar riff that gets you in the mood for some head banging. Megali again doesn’t miss a step with her vocals, never letting you get bored. A great guitar solo hits about ¾ through the song. 8.5/10

“I’m Real” is the track Megali used to showcase her vocals. The chorus is downright amazing, with a raging guitar riff keeping her company. It’s hard to imagine how she can go from the tone of the chorus immediately to this “harmonizing” effect she does about halfway through the song. 9.5/10

The next track “The Spark of Ignition” starts off pretty quick, guitars and drums going at it right off the bat. Megali shines as usual, and the track features some of the male vocals that were features on the first track, Lost. Jorn again hammers out a great solo near the end. 8/10

“Closer To My Heart” is the only slow song on the album. It’s short, to the point, and easy on the ears. You won’t have to skip it. Megali shows a little bit of her softer side without sounding completely different. She’s better at the faster, harder hitting material though. Minimal guitars are featured and a steady drum beat gives the song a little more drive than other songs in the same category. 8/10

“Give Up Once And For All” takes off running from the last track right back into the overall feel of the album. Megali sounds pissed in this one, especially near the beginning. More terrific guitar work keeps it away from any sense of boredom. A great chorus with Megali caps it off nicely. 8.5/10

“Brace For Impact” contains some late 80’s metal elements that you’ll notice right away. The keyboards sound a little old-fashioned, but it all plays out great. This is a completely instrumental song, Megali not saying a word. Some techno elements are added near the end, as well as an electronically aided guitar solo. Everything about the track screams “we miss the 80’s”. 9/10

“Pechvogel” is a track that you’ll probably end up listing to the most. Megali opens the track with a dose angst paired with guitars that haven’t been heavier since the opener. The track slows down somewhat around the two minute mark offering up some vocals similar to those from “Closer to My Heart”, but quickly jumps right back into the way the track started. 9.5/10

“Metalwaves” is a great track that offers up both sides of Megali’s voice without ever slowing down the speed of the music itself. The band is solid throughout and the chorus is one of the better on the album. Being one the longer tracks on the album Jorn gets the chance to again hammer out an excellent solo near the end. 9/10

The last track “Beautiful Sin” is an interesting way to finish the album. It’s purely an instrumental piece, and not with the band, but with a classical orchestra. It’s a great track if you enjoy music like this. 8/10

Overall, this is a terrific album. My only real gripe about it is the length of the tracks. Five of them are under 3:10. I suppose keeping them short kept their quality up, keeping you from getting bored, but there is room for improvement in that area. Something the band went with that is sort of rare is each song “bleeds” into the next, say if you go straight to track five, you will get some of track four at the very beginning. It’s a cool effect, but only if you plan on listening through the whole album at once. It can be confusing to people who are first hearing certain songs.

Simply put, get this album.