Some genres are better left alone after a certain point – serving more purpose as a beacon of a bygone era that sounded great once upon a time. Finland’s Beast In Black are the five-piece looking to put a surge back into a segment of metal that has for the most part; has been dead for twenty years plus.
Dwindling between the high pitched screams of 80’s hair metal and the straight up shredding of Dragonforce, the Helsinki crew have arrived with Berserker; their debut full-length album. It’s an experience of musical twists and turns that gives a platform to some moments that are credible – and others that feel a few decades out of place.
Having a tracklist with songs such as ‘Blood Of The Lion’ and ‘Zodd The Immortal’ gives the impression that Beast In Black have a knack for making themselves feel like a gimmick – and these tracks follow suit. In 2017 it’s pretty difficult to take over the top, diet ‘Jump’ by Van Halen guitar synths seriously – and while Berserker tries its hand at being all out fun from start to end – there’s something missing here.
As a whole work of art, Berserker is a frustrating listen at times – because there’s genuine plausible musicianship here. Furious fretwork on the solos of the title track, ‘Born Again’, and ‘The Fifth Angel’ as well as a drumming performance which remains consistent throughout the album; Beast In Black can put in an enjoyable shift of metal when they make space for it.
This is drastically scarce throughout the record though, and most of Berserker feels so 80’s it can be misconstrued as a parody soundtrack for Masters Of The Universe. Slightly more odd than the hair metal nuances though, is the techno vibe that flaunts itself every now and again. ‘Crazy, Mad, Insane’ takes the brunt of the flaws of this, it’s flat, outdated, and lacking in a surge of creativity.
It seems clear from the outset that Berserker is an album that you’re supposed to have fun with, and it never takes itself too seriously. But as opposed to bands such as Amon Amarth, Beast In Black don’t add enough quality in legitimate songwriting to give their gimmick true depth, and while there are some intricate moments in the record that are hard to ignore – as a whole Berserker feels too far behind the times to be taken truly seriously.