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BEYOND The Beyond Twilight - 96%

waxlrose, August 19th, 2012

Finn Zierler surpassed his own imagination. Songwriting & composing core, the central source of creative electro-magnetic force field in BT, broke his own standard, set by the 2001 debut, "The Devil's Hall of Fame" with this majestic, again very well orchestrated and assembled conceptual exploration of psychological, science-fiction-like realms and states where experiences and nirvana's rule the expression and ambience of this concept.
This is their version of Transcendence.

The story and the concept gradually grows and expands in your imagination until the final creative, sonic and glass-shattering implosion coupled with fantastic choirs, melodies, excellent orchestration, high-pitched solo vocals and symphonically rich keyboard/piano tabs all grounded on solid sinister, unforgettable lyrics with few sing-alongs, making it a one unforgettable & truly dark sinister but victorious record.

Here we have the ballad-like sounding & gravitating tracks like the self titled, or the initiating power-piece "Be careful it's my head too" with no resemblance to the catchy and quite magnetizing almost simplistic (in that sense) song like "Crying" sang by Lande on the predecessor, whatsoever. Finn has completely jumped out of his own trademark box by expanding the atmospheric moods and emotional horizons through introduction and emphasis on sudden choirs. Following the nature of a concept, he introduced well arranged audio effects of psychotic reactions to evoke in a sounding way, mental maze of the schizophrenic protagonist in the mind of a listener, tracking was sampled through hundreds of layers to create more organic ambience. Less emotional pipes of Kelly Sundown Carpenter that made the atmosphere even more appositely darker, rawer, atmospheric, at the pinnacle, made this LP unforgettable.

Production, engineering, mixing and mastering were again done by the hands of producer Tommy Hansen whose perfectionistic approach coupled with Finn as an arranger himself once again, made this into another crystal clear standard of collaboration and production, reinforcing the overall image of this cult Danish progressive metal quintet (sextet). Instruments and vocals are warm and alive and I hope some day there will be Vinyl release for the full audiophile experience.

There are 7 full songs excluding cinematically & thematically adapted intro to condition the mood and set the conceptual path of the record. The most notable again, stereotypically is an introduction of the American vocalist, Kelly Sundown Carpenter who was in the same time, simultaneously working with guitar virtuoso Rusty Cooley on his own side project, Outworld, sadly also not that time lasting project as his work with Zierler here will be the last. His style is high-pitched reminiscence of the likes as Midnight, in some screams audibly similar but nowhere near powerful as Daniel Heiman (he is edgier and strains on the minimum or not at all, but still his full voice is thinner and more lightweight, Jan Thore Grefstad of Highland Glory has much more conviction and the muscle support on higher ranges and still ability to smoothly transition backward to the middle ranges, while still sounding thick), Dio, Tate (not to be confused with Geoff Taint :) ) etc. He's a very good addition to the high-end standard characteristics of the modern technical vocalists and to those underground influential heroes. His name will be remembered even if he never produces another vocally standard-smashing opus.

Section X, concept evolves and revolves around the "black sheep" who managed to reverse-engineer the map of the human brain enabling him to modify the almighty organ in whatever mode his creativity desires, utilizing the whole resting and unawakened potential of his hidden genius at once. After transferring the hidden potential to his own clone's brain and using the fragments of the Einstein's own brain in the process, the protagonist realizes his capability to improve and upgrade through the clone's own progression, mentaland creative potential and possibility to elevate himself on any creative level and frequency of rapid cognitive functioning where suddenly every answer is available and any problem resolvable, where the matter's boundaries and intellectual limitations, are easily surpassable. What he doesn't know immediately is that as his clone grows exponentially more thirsty and hungry, that he himself expands without control. He starts stealing other people's thoughts and synapses to fulfill his megalomanic addiction, transferring their minds into the clone then himself. Suddenly people start dying in the process of him taking over their senses and leaving them and then he realizes the threat, finalizing it by ... well buy the album and discover the message by yourself. The album cover is also very enigmatic and suggestible, picture communicates the message and the concept very well.

Essentially this record is overwhelming in every positive way and highly praised with the ground in not just few reasons. You should add it undoubtedly to your progressive collection since this will complete the nucleus of what breaking the standards in creative museums of life truly reflects and maybe here and there make your recall that you can do better in life by yourself, examples and ideals are set by exactly this standard of musicianship and creativity.

A dimly lit path down a dark, twisted road. - 95%

Empyreal, May 24th, 2008

It isn't every day that I come across a band with both endless creative nuance and powerful songwriting command, still managing to be compulsively listenable and cool while remaining an artistic statement of the highest degree, but here we have something that breaks the mold. Beyond Twilight are a Danish Progressive Metal band formed by keyboardist and songwriting genius Finn Zierler, and while they may never be able to keep a solid lineup, they will at least have this album on their pedigree for great fucking music.

Section X is not your average Prog album. Not in the least. They start off with a fairly simple melodic base to lay the ground-work of their musical foundations (not that different from more vanilla Prog bands like Dream Theater, for instance), but then they add in a heaping helping of cool, sleek, mechanical riffs, a dash of softer, morbid piano romanticism and lush, haunted house synth runs sprinkled lightly atop the whole stew. The vocals are really something else, too, provided by the fantastic Kelly "Sundown" Carpenter, who some of you may know more recently from Outworld's punishing debut record. He has a high pitched, edgy voice reminiscent of what you'd get if you gave James LaBrie in his prime the range and dynamic power of King Diamond, and he uses his pipes to a frighteningly insane effect. The whole thing is quite formidable, a towering monolith of progressive accomplishments wrapped up in a devilishly blackened aesthetic that will instantly please those so inclined to such frayed pastures as myself. It isn't simply the variety of instrumentation that makes Section X an interesting and unique album, though...

...but the songwriting techniques utilized. The first song "The Path of Darkness" is a sprawling, sorrowful stomp that teeters between two emotional spectrums in its 6 minute duration - a morose sort of cry for help and a screaming, frothing insanity that seems almost contagious - quite a masterfully executed effect, and one I wish more bands would try, instead of just sticking to one mood for the whole song. Sundown spits and blasphemes all over the place, but he also shows his ability to slow down and croon, and he sounds great in both modes, honestly. This is a song that would be a high point on a Pyramaze or Ayreon album, but it's just the tip of the fucking iceberg here. The next song is "Shadow Self," and it only marginally sounds like the one before it; a creeping, lurching, uncoiling serpent of a song, boasting the most King Diamond-influenced vocal performance here. "Sleeping Beauty" is a more classically oriented song, with lots of pianos and some synths overlapping into the heaviness, and "Dark Side" is a lurching, schizophrenic song that you won't want to listen to with the lights off. After a short piano interlude, "Ecstasy Arise" kicks in, with its riveting, careening theme guitar riff, and it's the best song on here, despite also being the least progressive (that isn't saying much; this song is still light years beyond what most bands of their ilk were doing around the time this was released). The title track ends the album, and it is a long, dense epic with style and class to spare, sporting the same creative bite that the rest of the album already had in spades.

This kind of maniacal songwriting power is almost unheard of, as while it is a bit uneven, and while some songs drag on a bit with sections that just don't quite click, it is still an enthralling listen all the way through, and it is completely insane. Absolutely insane. Foaming-at-the-mouth, bouncing-off-the-walls, shithouse mouse insane, the kind of insane that goes beyond charming and witty and into realms that you wouldn't normally associate with music, perhaps even making the listener feel uncomfortable upon hearing Sundown's maniacal shrieks of "Smell the gaaaaasoliiiiiiine!," and proud of it. Section X is an album that thrives and feasts upon the darkness and intrigue which surrounds it, fully embracing its voracious intensity and maddening disdain with open arms. This is a concept album of some kind, but you wouldn't be able to tell if the band didn't notify you themselves - the songs here really don't have much to tie them together, each taking a central idea and building upon it, until it is able to grow and writhe and bite all on its own; a brand new beast. Zierler's compositions are twisted and morbid, unfolding themselves in contorted, pained fashions alien to what we are accustomed to, and if not for the unifying force of the production values and the vocal work, none of them would even sound remotely alike. Zierler is not insane, but the fact that he can write music that leans so persuasively in that direction is quite admirable indeed.

For unbound brilliance and dark morbidity in Prog, you can't get much better than this one. The instrumentation is unparalleled, the vocals are fantastic, the songwriting is ace, and the whole package exudes an air of passion and sincerity not found in many other releases these days. Get it.

Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com

Fantastic Release. - 93%

apoc_metal, October 20th, 2006

Beyond Twilight is no ordinary metal band. With Finn Zierler on Keyboards and as producer and the driving creative force behind the band since their inception 10 years ago, they have brushed aside all conventions and created a truly unique brand of powerfully dark, brooding progressive metal. Section X is, to put it bluntly, a masterpiece. With that said, it must be noted that this is a "concept album", inspired by an epic science-fiction nightmare scenario complete with genetic experiments and computerized thought-transfers. The cheesy intro does a nice job of lowering your expectations for the album, "Log Entry 2004-Z Nucleic extraction successful..." Despite my initial disdain, by the end of the album the theme actually managed to fit in, and not feel so ridiculous, mostly due to their uncanny ability to write powerful emotion-filled songs. The lyrics themselves are nothing to write home about, but when combined with the atmosphere and force of Section X's brilliant songwriting and orchestration, and Kelly Sundown Carpenter’s stunning vocal performance, they take on a life of their own. Much like a skilled director can transform a flimsy script into a bone-rattling movie, Beyond Twilight manage to take a cheesy story and create an eerily foreboding piece of progressive Sci-Fi metal.

The Beyond Twilight sound really must be heard to be understood; and anyone familiar with their previous work will not be disappointed. With Section X, Beyond Twilight have shown they are not scared to innovate, and they have the creative dexterity to make even the most absurd things appealing—even downright delicious.

They combine unique rhythms (5/4 waltz you say?) with melodic passages and tearing riffs. The vocals come in to provide the emotional glue, and I must say despite any personality quirks, Kelly really delivers on this release. More importantly though, is the band's versatility as a whole. Able to switch effortlessly from quiet piano passages to mad guitar and keyboard riff-fests, they make you feel the terror of imminent mad-scientist-induced destruction.

The production is flawless, the songwriting masterful and original and never boring or repetitive. At times the keyboards sound a bit fake, they would have been better suited to finding a real wooden piano for some of the parts, but this is only a minor problem. This album is worth shelling out the money for, and worth telling your friends about. It has already gone down as one of the best releases of 2005, and has allowed Beyond Twilight to get the metal community’s attention through sheer musical ability, a feat practically unheard of in this age of absolute media saturation and control.

Production: 5/5
Musicianship: 5/5
Lyrics: 3.5/5
Overall: A-

The bridge between two classics - 93%

concertmusic, October 6th, 2006

With the benefit of hindsight, this middle release between the ground-breaking "The Devil's Hall of Fame" and the envelope-pushing "For the Love and the Art of the Making" by Danish prog metal genius Finn Zierler and his Beyond Twilight can be seen as the bridge between the two efforts. Mind you, this CD is a masterful work in its own right, but can now be differently judged than when there was just one other releases for comparison.

Note that I usually refer to Beyond Twilight as 'Finn Zierler and his Beyond Twilight' - this is done very much on purpose. There can be no doubt that Finn Zierler is the creative mastermind of the enterprise, and has all of the strings of the puppet show in his hands. This was true from the start, even when Jorn Lande was around, and is absolutely apparent now with "For the Love...". He writes, arranges, coordinates - in a word, he has complete control over all aspects of the music. The musical structure of all Beyond Twilight releases are driven, and, at the risk of becoming repetitive, controlled by his keyboards, and are to some extent only supplemented by the other prog metal elements that are present. This does not mean that the supporting musician don't have their say throughout, but they are clearly there in support. For those worried about the last sentence - you will find some of the heaviest prog metal available in all 3 releases - there is no reason to fret.

Love him or hate him, Jorn Lande gave the performance of his life (and that includes any future release by him; mark my words, he will never top "Devil's Hall of Fame") in the first release under the name Beyond Twilight. That CD oozes evil genius, and stands in a category of its own in my library. This here "Section X" clearly comes from the same mind, but makes strides towards where we are today, with "For the Love..."

Jorn Lande played the perfect demonic vocalist in the first release; for this CD, a cackling, demented genius was required, and Kelly Carpenter plays this role with great aplomb. His voice is much higher than Jorn Lande's, and simply has a very different effect on the sound. In addition, the material here, especially the first seven tracks, are less accessible, more complicated and obtuse, and are therefore not quite as easily enjoyable as "Devil's Hall of Fame". The two songs that are usually listed by most reviewers as the top tracks on "Section X", namely "Ecstasy Arise" and the title track, unsurprisingly have the most in common with the previous material.

Alongside those tracks that hark back, we have several tracks, and elements inside tracks, that clearly foreshadow what is to come. Especially "The Dark Side" would be quite at home on "For the Love...", and threads started in "Sleeping Beauty" here are pickd up and elaborated on - one look at the track list of "For the Love..." makes that more than clear. I don't know if this observation is coincidence or not, but with the previous discussion in mind, one can split "Section X" into 3 parts: The first 3 tracks are original "Section X" material, the next 3 tracks look ahead, and the final 2 tracks look back.

Standing on its own, "Section X" is great, complicated, heavy, psychotic prog metal of the best kind. As a bridge between two absolutely stunning releases, it pales just ever so slightly. It still is a must-have in any prog metal collection.

even without Jorn this rules!! - 90%

krozza, April 12th, 2005

You all know who sang on Beyond Twilight’s debut album don’t you? Jorn Lande. As a performance, I rate Jorn’s effort on ‘The Devils Hall of Flame’ as his greatest ever. Oh sure, the man is simply masterful on his solo material and in Masterplan (and his dozen or so other collaborations), but as far as showing off his full range and incredible emotive power, Jorn simply rules on ‘The Devils…’ The fact that the music was so dark and moody, this also accentuated his performance somewhat. Needless to say, when word arrived that the new BT album was imminent, I was hoping like hell that Jorn would be there again. He’s not!

Having quickly reconciled with this fact, I must admit that my interest in ‘Section X’ was piqued even further because of Jorn’s absence. Whether Lande was simply unavailable or deliberately replaced I’m not certain, but clearly BT founder and mastermind Finn Zierler must have been a little concerned at the prospect of finding someone to take his place. Voices like Jorn’s don’t come along every day. As far as was concerned, whoever was given the task by Zierler had to be damn good. Enter American vocalist Kelly Sundown Carpenter.

Yeah, like you, I also muttered ‘who?’ However, it won’t take you too long to remember the name; or the performance. The addition of Carpenter (who also vocalises in Outworld) is a masterstroke for Zierler (who I will never doubt again) - not only does Carpenter possess the versatile range and power of Lande, but he also enables a decidedly more progressive element to weave its way through the bands music. With a voice that reminds me of Mike Howe (Metal Church), an aggressive James Labrie (Dream Theater) and Zac Stevens (Savatage), Carpenter pulls of Zierler’s compositions with stunning composure and self assurance. If you were worried about a ‘Jorn-less’ BT, don’t fret. All is well here.

With a change of vocalist, you can be certain that Finn Zierler has looked to explore different musical paths also. Compared to haunting ‘TDHOF’, this new disc is an even darker, more complex progressive beast. Any hint of commerciality that TDHOF might have displayed is virtually non-existent on ‘Section X’. There is a real dramatic atmosphere that hangs over this disc – it is clearly less accessible (no hooks or sing along choruses here folks) and asks the listener to present their full concentration or else risk total confusion. The multi-layered instrumentation (apparently 500 tracks per song was dedicated to this album) gives rise to a truly epic and powerful sound – massively heavy in the riff (courtesy of Invocator guitarist Jacob Hansen (also the famed European metal producer) and cinematic in its overall vision, everything is brought to the fore by Carpenter’s stunning vocals and the Zierler/Tommy Hansen production at Jailhouse Studios. There is nary a weak track on this disc – it flows magnificently, each track a technical embellishment on the next until it culminates with the final two moments of grandeur – the 9 minute ‘Ecstasy Arise which backs onto the 8 minute title track closer. Exquisite!

It’s interesting to note the writing process that was involved in this album. Like Finn did with ‘TDHOF’, he has written ‘Section X’ solely as a one person project and the searched the world for musicians to bring his ideas to fruition. However, instead of writing this one in the desert without any instruments to aid his work (as was the process for ‘TDHOF’), Finn has composed this in three different stages: in total solitude locked in an attic, submerged under water in a cold lake and living on the dark streets of London town while writing the material. Lyrically, things are even more enigmatic – once again this is a conceptual story based on a wise man that creates a clone of himself and experiments with partial brains of prominent men in history!! What the fuck? Now I understand why this band is such a unique and totally one of a kind musical entity.

There has always been a dark mysterious vibe about ‘Beyond Twilight’. Not too much is actually known about the band and Finn has until now deliberately avoided the hype and publicity that his band quite obviously demands. Checking the bands website, it appears that with the addition of Carpenter and Hansen, not to mention an incredibly dark and sinister sounding new album, Finn Zierler is about to make step out into the light. Be certain punters – as far as dark, technical progressive metal in concerned, Beyond Twilight are the real deal (even without Jorn). Invest now!

KROZZA

original review for http://www.pyromusic.net