Beyond Twilight – The Devil’s Hall of Fame – 4.5/5
One of my past favourites released this last decade, a prog band that uses their talent in an atmospheric manner, remarkably different from many other artists who play the genre. Not least of which is the often slow pace, the twisted snarling vocal lines and the sci-fi themed keyboard work; this isn’t another jovial upbeat piece of neo-classical wankery, this a dark sci-fi horror, almost as much gothic/doom as the more power-esque style of thinking, and through it all the tracks meander seamlessly down dark roads and soft emotional lines; this is creative, unique, and brilliant.
The drums spend most of their time working in the back with the bass, and whilst both can be discerned, it is their work that forms to the foundation to work from. Often slower in tempo, they manage to suit the music wonderfully, and whilst not the most creative of forces presented here do more than is required of them, and allow the additional layers of instrumentation to form the tracks melody. The guitars too spend most of their time performing basic chords and riffs, providing an appropriately sci-fi toned core rhythm for the track. Whilst the absence of prominent solo work is made a little disappointing, his presence is constantly noted and at no point feels as though more should be done – everything is made to flow without getting dull, and given the option of an out of place obligatory solo that feels detached, or lack of a solo, it is the latter that will often take my preference.
With the vocal talents of ‘Jorn Lande’ (Masterplan) at the helm for this debut album – and unfortunately, his last with ‘Beyond Twilight’ – his unusual vocal manner goes a long way in differentiating them from the pack. Whilst capable of soft emotional lines, it his snarling, almost falsetto, vocals that lend a twist in the style, perfectly suited to the ‘killing you with a smile’ tone much of the music takes, and his diversity in tones and the success they are performed constitutes one of the main highlights on offer. The second highlight being the main musical genius behind the project manning the keyboards; whilst they are gratuitously used throughout the album, the manner they are utilised is almost more akin to a lead guitarist, supplying atmospheric rhythm through passages of all tempos, through the evil and gentle, lending as much an atmospheric space-like presence as a neo-classical one. Even despite the manner they are lavishly added, they never feel tiring or repetitive, using a range of tones to their full potential that feels all too natural to ever be considered a negative aspect of the music created.
Anyone dubious as to how effectively keyboards can be utilised within music cannot have heard this album. The inventive lyrics, clearly carefully thought out only serve to further distinguish themselves from contemporaries. In fact, there are few real comparisons that can be made for these Danish musicians. Perhaps best summed up by the title, Welcome to the ‘Devil’s Hall of Fame.’
Highlights: Hellfire, Shadowland, The Devil’s Waltz