Published on December 3rd, 2017 | by Justin G.
Beast in Black: Berserker (Nuclear Blast)
It’s always fun when an album comes seemingly out of nowhere in the closing weeks of the year and makes you reshuffle your “best of the year” lists. This year’s challenger is Berserker, the debut offering from Finnish heavy metal band Beast in Black. These guys weren’t even on my radar, but the cover art and logo reminded me enough of Battle Beast that I had to check them out. It turns out Beast in Black was formed by former Battle Beast (and current Wisdon) guitarist Anton Kabanen, which explains the not so subtle references. He’s joined by Wisdom bandmate Mate Molnar on bass, former UDO guitarist Kasperi Heikkinen, drummer Sami Hanninen and former Crosswind singer Yannis Papadopoulos.
Given the band’s origins, it should surprise roughly no one that Berserker sounds almost exactly like a Battle Beast album. The super-poppy elements that dominate Battle Beast’s latest album (the excellent Bringer of Pain) are dialed back (but not absent) on Berserker, but the basic ultra-melodic approach to heavy/power metal that defined Battle Beast’s sound also define Beast in Black. The obvious difference is that Beast in Black has a male vocalist, though Papadopoulos is so versatile that there are times where even that isn’t apparent.
Berserker is beyond catchy, like smashing a Primal Fear album together with a Freedom Call album. Shiny, happy battle anthems about monsters, fire and the apocalypse may seem a bit incongruous, but you stop caring (and start singing) roughly a minute into this album. It’s beyond addictive and just a really fun album, much like Bringer of Pain was. It’s always a good sign when you’d rather leave a disc in the player instead of moving on, and Berserker is getting a lot of spins here. Even when it’s not spinning, I find myself humming the melodies from “Blind and Frozen,” “Blood of a Lion” and “End of the World” throughout the day. And the rest of the album is just as memorable.
Yeah, this is a winner. It’s an absolute must-have for fans of Battle Beast, and Battle Beast fans who thought they went too far on Bringer of Pain should be all over Berserker (you may want to skip past “Crazy, Mad, Insane” though). Beyond that, Beast in Black should appeal to fans of high-energy, highly melodic metal bands like Primal Fear, Freedom Call, Dragonforce and Orden Ogan.
Edition Notes: The European CD release of Berserker comes in a digipack and includes two bonus tracks – “Hell For All Eternity” and “Go To Hell.” Both are really good songs, so it’s probably worth the extra cash to get the import version, though if you order the standard version on Amazon, they let you download the extra tracks with their AutoRip function.
Summary: Ultra-catchy power metal for fans of Battle Beast