posted on 11/2003 By:
I can’t really say how many out there followed Paradise Lost on their foray into “Depeche Mode metal,” but much like their earlier more doom oriented material, I found that it had its ups and downs. Since they began as relatively standard doom, it was nice to see them doing something different but somewhat disappointing that a good portion of it was pretty bland. Beyond Dawn began as a doom band as well, but they certainly weren’t standard. Their debut had dreadful production but extremely unique songwriting and musicianship, including the use of trombone (clearly not something often heard from doom bands). Over the two albums that followed they made their way further and further from metal into a more pop sensible act (but still kept the trombone). Their new album Frysh is lacking trombone and shows Beyond Dawn delving further into accessible and more electronic music. If that sounds like something unpleasant to you, don’t bother reading further. This isn’t music for people who aren’t willing to embrace something different from the metal music of today. With Frysh, Beyond Dawn could definitely fit into the category of “Depeche Mode metal” along with latter day Paradise Lost, but these guys have had something all along that Paradise Lost has always been lacking: creativity. Here the creativity has mixed results, but they’re much more often good than bad. At the core of this album is synth-pop ala Depeche Mode, but there are traces of brit-pop like Blur or Doves, lounge music, psychedelic, and even pure electronica. The album starts off strong; Far From Showbiz crescendos from mellow lounge music to electronic infused hard rock, moving fluidly with a cohesive foundation. The next song reminds me of The Cars with catchy keyboards topping subtle melodies and beats. Most of the rest of the songs follow suit and are very high quality and easy to listen to. The only problem with this album is that on a few tracks the band tries too hard to stray from the accessible goodness found on the rest of the album. Maybe they’re not comfortable with the fact that they’re at their best playing music that’s easy to listen to. They really should be comfortable with that; it’s not often that a band can craft songs as pleasant and fun as these that also have the depth of those found here. That said, the few songs I find to be unpleasant and worth skipping over are Bloody Comeback, Decreasing the Gravity (a remix of one of the albums better songs), and Maybe Deeper (which starts well but doesn’t go anywhere). Their attention to detail is very good and their production flawless making for a totally well rounded album despite the few unnecessary songs. Frysh’s 68 minute duration is a bit much. Sometimes less is more, and without the two or three songs that aren’t as enjoyable as the rest it could be a nice 55 minute album, but this isn’t such a big problem. It’s still very enjoyable. The best things about this album are the vocals, the production, and the concise yet subtle songwriting. Espen Weltschmertz’s vocals are delivered in a charmingly British manner, much akin to Anathema’s more straightforward moments on their recent albums. The production is without flaw. Everything is at exactly the right place in the mix, the parts that need to have more punch at various points on the album have exactly the punch they need. Aside from the few lackluster tunes, the songwriting is expert. The main melodies are kept simple enough to not seem pretentious or domineering, but the subtleties are plentiful enough to keep it from every getting boring. Assuming you heeded my warning earlier in the review, you’re probably not put off by music being outside the realm of metal, and in that case, I highly recommend this album. Nowhere is it perfect, but the better songs on the album definitely come close. Regardless, the vast majority is a pleasure to listen to and that’s all I can ask of an album.
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