There are some artists whose upcoming releases always intrigue me, and Beyond Twilight belongs to that category although they have only released one album until now. Section X is the second Beyond Twilight album, and it introduces us a new singer - instead of the speculated Russell Allen, Kelly Sundown Carpenter (Outworld) steps into Jörn Lande's shoes. Already from the beginning of the album, it becomes clear that Carpenter is a great substitute for Lande. He has ear for freaky yet catchy vocal lines in addition to his strong soaring voice, which is occasionally even reminiscent to that of Jörn Lande's. The line-up on this album also features the well-known Danish producer Jacob Hansen (Invocator) playing the rhythm guitar.
The music of Beyond Twilight is dark, atmospheric metal with some progressive elements thrown in as well. Especially one of Beyond Twilight's strengths is their "signature" sound, which is based on Zierler's evocative synth work and the guitarists' melodically haunting riffs. As always Finn Zierler decided to write this album in total solitude... however, this time he sought inspiration from various locations: partly he was locked in an attic, submerged under water and living on the dark streets of London. This journey was well worth the trouble, since Zierler has come up with yet again weird scinematic metal album that keeps the listener interested throughout the whole album.
Production on Section X is rather good. The album was mixed at Jailhouse Studios by Finn Zierler and Tommy Hansen. The sounds are suitably atmospheric yet there's also some raw power present on the mix. The only complaints regarding production concern the small background distortion which is occasionally audible.
Section X is definitely album worth checking out in case you've listened to Beyond Twilight or Twilight in the past or you're a fan of this specific genre. Actually this is thinking man's metal, so I challenge you to give this album a listen and see if it's for you.
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Section X is a concept album, the story of which is summarised at the band's website. Although I am not into concept albums that much anymore since King Diamond's Abigail (still the queen of all concept albums), the dark and slightly futuristic music gives you immediately the impression what this is all about. Beginning with cyberpunkish intro Be Careful, It's My Head Too, we see instantly that this is not your average happy-go-lucky power metal album. The Path Of Darkness, the first regular song, is very dramatic, with a strong sense of gloominess, due to the talents of all six band members involved. Even though Finn Zierler, Danish keyboard virtuoso, is responsible for the song writing, he never overdoes it (except in the short but astonishing instrumental Portrait In Dark Waters) and leaves enough space for new American vocalist Kelly Sundown Carpenter (also singer of Outworld) whose multi-facetted voice adds the necessary schizophrenic atmosphere.
Other highlights include Sleeping Beauty with moving piano parts and the shorter but really dark The Dark Side. I doubt that Beyond Twilight is a real band, with Zierler being the sole centre of the band, and the headbanging factor is very minimal, but then why should Beyond Twilight do what most other epic power metal band does? Section X is a masterpiece, very progressive, and therefore not something you will fully grasp at the very beginning. The rather short running time helps you to get into the different mostly long songs, and once you have been there, you will leave fully enchanted.
For an album that has been written in three different locations (in a pitch black cell, under water and living in the streets of London), and then recorded on over 500 tracks (long live the digital future), we can proudly state that Section X is an ambitious yet never pretentious heavy metal album, maybe less technical than WatchTower, and much darker than Dream Theater, that should appeal in the end to every friend of intelligent metal music.
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