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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