The Beast Is Back With A Dark Connection
by Geoff Ford
I can’t say I’ve ever been a heavy metal fan but when Beast In Black supported Nightwish on their tour, back in 2018, I was blown away! They stand out from the metal masses by adding some great riffs and melodies to the essential high energy frenzy that often defines the genre, a heady, yet accessible mix
Guitarist and band founder Anton Kabanen, Yannis Papadopoulos (vocals), Kasperi Heikkinen (guitars), Mate Molnar (bass) and drummer Atte Palokangas have completed the third chapter of their Beast-like musical trilogy, Dark Connection is released on Nuclear Blast Records on 29 October.
Their debut Berserker (2017) and its follow up From Hell With Love (2019) were both platinum-certified in Finland and the latter also hit the top 10 of the German album chart. Beast In Black kick-started their live career with a notable European arena run with symphonic metal masters Nightwish. That paved the way to their very own, mostly sold-out headline gigs and a memorable concert in front of 4,500 enthusiastic metalheads from all over the globe at Helsinki’s Ice Hall in December 2019, the grand finale of their From Hell With Love touring cycle.
Sharp riffs and hyper-catchy choruses again dominate the group’s sound on Dark Connection, produced, recorded and mixed by Anton Kabanen. Dark Connection may also feature the most prominent synths of all of Beast In Black’s recordings so far, especially in the form of the Italo disco, Euro beat and symphonic elements that the band are so widely loved for. Despite that, at its core, it’s still all about simple heavy metal.
“The best and strongest songs are those that can get stripped down and turned into acoustic versions, with the line-up only including guitar or piano plus vocals, but without the melodies losing their very essence,” says Anton. “I actually started to get really excited about the new material in its midi-demo form. If it sounds really good and you can’t get enough of those melodies in such an early form of a song, there just has to be something memorable, right? Do you remember the old-school music from Nintendo and Super Nintendo games?” explains the gaming fan one of his main sources of inspiration. “Very simple sound chips and limited resources pushed composers to write fantastic, ageless melodies.”
These tunes. the kind of ageless melodies that Kabanen has always been able to create, once again melt with heroic stories that are rooted in sci-fi, fantasy and cyberpunk and represented in the artwork of the band’s long-time companion Roman Ismailov. “There’s a few ongoing themes on the album at least, one of them might even be familiar to fans of my earlier work,” Anton reveals. “Tracks such as Highway To Mars and Moonlight Rendezvous lead into the cyberpunk worlds of the Armitage III anime series and are even partly Blade Runner inspired.”
But could there really be a Beast In Black album without Berserk? Of course not, and there will never be. Berserk is one of, if not the, guitarist’s favourite manga series which the band once again pays tribute to on the new album in the form of Dark New World, To The Last Drop Of Blood and Broken Survivors.
Whether it’s the full-on tracks Blade Runner and Revengeance Machine or more sensitive songs such as Broken Survivors and album closer My Dystopia, the outfit’s lead singer Yannis Papadopoulos has offered up his ‘last drop of blood’ in too. “He’s one of those rare singers that can do anything!” Anton enthuses. “He’s a very dedicated singer, and he doesn’t just do one or two takes, he does as many as it takes for a perfect result. There are so many impressive Yannis moments all over Dark Connection. I’m quite sure people will find themselves thinking: ‘Is this Yannis too?’ and most of the times it’s really him. Sure, my raspy screams, some epic duets and a lot of back-up vocals can be heard too, but Yannis’ performance is definitely the most diverse he has ever delivered,” he concludes.
Beast In Black, Dark Connection track list:
1. Blade Runner
2. Bella Donna
3. Highway To Mars
5. One Night In Tokyo
6. Moonlight Rendezvous
7. Revengeance Machine
8. Dark New World
9. To The Last Drop Of Blood
10. Broken Survivors
11. My Dystopia
12. Battle Hymn
13. They Don’t Care About Us
Beast In Black, Dark Connection is released on Nuclear Blast Records on 29 October.