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The Beyond > Crawl > Reviews
The Beyond - Crawl

Down and Out in the East Midlands - 86%

bayern, May 14th, 2020

Now this is an eclectic bunch, a progressive metal combo from Derby who got on everyone’s nerves in the early-90’s with this jarring neurotic outing, a restless compilation of sounds that must have been a big influence on the mathcore movement.

This is surely an interesting listen coming as a blend of spastic math-rock formulas and more aggressive thrashy shredding ala Watchtower, the two currents bonding on every number, creating a lot of psychotic jazzy drama in the process. Add a fairly proficient clean attached vocalist who doesn’t get easily perturbed by the unnerving musical conundrum wrapping him, and you have a recipe for success… but not in the transitional 90’s.

Still, the guys hold their own either with more overt adherences to the good old tech-thrash (“Sacred Garden”) or with surreal semi-balladic etudes (Sick”) where the underlying schizoid motif is too hard to suppress. The building blocks of the album seem to be the less intense pieces (“Day Before Tomorrow”, “The Eve of My Release”) where charmingly discordant rhythms jump up and down to a dizzying effect, think mid-period Sieges Even (“Uneven”, “Sophisticated”) for a good reference point, and certainly Spastic Ink. There’s even an attempt at a more linear headbanging song-writing on “Lead The Blind” but this track is by-and-large another labyrinth of crooked time-signatures and abrupt tempo shifts, the guys racing with Megadeth’s repertoire at the same time period with the frantic entangled riffage on “Second Sight”, showing Mustaine how he could have made “Countdown to Extinction” more puzzlingly attractive as the layout and spirit are quite comparable. Not elsewhere, though, as this is a much more challenging listen from which the guys take a break with the very cool dark ballad “Dominoes”, and the weird funky nail-biter “Nail”.

A fairly intriguing entry from the Isles, provided that this kind of music wasn’t the most popular one over there although fans of the unorthodox and original should fondly remember the progressive metal wizards Inner Sanctum and their continuation Fifth Season, and by all means the Voivod-ian team Wartech. This band here aim for something more twisted and irregular and surely achieve their goal, to make the audience jump up-and-down in more or less possible configurations, trying to solve these algebraic vistas which seem to never end, even on the quieter moments. It’s an outlandish experience that may leave the listener a bit jaded at the end; even some from the current mathcore fandom may feel disoriented falling under this jazzy neurotically-active spell.

A series of EP’s followed, most of them containing songs from the opus here, paving the way for the arrival of the sophomore. Alas, this second instalment had very little from its predecessor’s restlessness and ingenuity; it was a much more leisurely-executed affair with thrash completely removed from the this time much easier to solve equation, the band treading in the balladic/semi-balladic/quasi-doomy quagmire without too many attempts to get out of it. Not a very worthy closure to a promising start which had its follow-up in another string of EP’s released under the name Gorilla. Don’t bother with those if you want to remain in the snare of this nerve-wrecking schizoid, mathematical wonder.

Quirky math metal - 75%

Crossover, December 16th, 2016

The Beyond are a from the UK that seemed to have had success back in the day, yet are forgotten on the archives, playing a more alternative-sounding and distinctively 90's style of prog metal. On this album they bounce around from jazzy to technical metallic rhythms. Singer John Whitby is a more listless version of Threshold's Glynn Morgan mixed with 80's era post-punk vocals. They love dissonance and off-kilter, sometimes groovy rhythms and poly-rhythms.

I would say the star of the show here is drummer Neil Cooper who would carry on to more mainstream success in Therapy?. The man is just torturing his poor drum kit here. I have not heard this band's EPs but after hearing this record I would be intrigued to hear how they reached this song. The guitars more or less follow the drums and play second-fiddle, sometimes devolving into some noodly drivel. The mathy quality of this album will have nerds running towards it, but for the casual listener it may become problematic.

It is heavier prog metal, there are notes left over that this band may have practiced thrash in earlier times. This especially is true in Day Before Tomorrow. The album spawned two singles One Step Too Far and Empire. It is funny because they are really no more engaging than anything else on the record. But I guess that is what major-label support will do for you. The band gets a bit slower and more creeping on Sick and finishes with two more typical tracks.

There just aren't enough good engaging riffs and melodies here. The playing is tight and superb but a pitfall to such gifts can be the lack of songwriting skill. Nevertheless anyone who is a fan of quirky bands like Watchtower or Confessor (minus the balls in vice vocals) might enjoy this stuff. At the end of the day I think they start with the bands only

Recommended tracks: Sacred Garden, Everyone Wins, Day Before Tomorrow and the alternative-tinged Nails.