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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.