|Genre||Symphonic Gothic Metal|
|Release Date||23 September 2019|
Symphonic gothic metal as a whole has a limit as to how much can be done with it. Or, at least, it’s never been done very far from your typical Within Temptation/After Forever/Tristania sound: aggressive instrumentation behind a (usually) soft female soprano, choirs, strings, and an in-your-face juxtaposition of “darkness and light”, either with that aforementioned instrumentation or through the use of clashing growls and operatic vocals, or both. I like it when it’s done well, but I’m always left dissatisfied, wanting something that ventures a bit off the well-beaten path.
Fortunately, Beyond Forgiveness’ Live to Tell the Story comes pretty close to satiating my gothic metal desires. Yeah, it has all that stuff I just mentioned that most other bands in the space have, but there are two key components that bring it above a good portion of them; it lacks the vapid pretension that is ever-too common in gothic music and it has a whole lot of heart.
What do I mean by “vapid pretension”? Well, it seems that every time you listen to a gothic metal record, you’re attacked with emotional messages (which aren’t subtle or tasteful at all) and it’s forced down your throat like bad Chinese. The bands always try way too hard to emphasize that their music is deep but, in reality, it’s the same shit that you’d find in the journal of an unimaginative emo kid’s diary, only with instruments attached. Come on. If your music has emotional meaning, we should be able to feel it ourselves without you reassuring us every five fucking seconds that it’s special. Anyway, Beyond Forgiveness doesn’t do that, and instead you can feel all of the pain, beauty, aggression, mourning, and longing in the music without much effort, which is a huge plus.
Needless to say, the whole album feels pretty natural. Every track has highs and lows, as well as a good mix of harsh growls, male vocals, female vocals, and operatic vocals of both genders. Some tracks are definitely heavier than others, like the very melodeathy ‘One Last Time’ and ‘Labyrinth’, but there are plenty of light, angelic moments that round the album out. There is a bit of excess that could be stripped away, like most (or all) of ‘When Rivers Turn Red’, but the songwriting is otherwise at the top of its game. Complete with passionate-sounding, talented musicians (especially the drummer, Sean Rogers), Live to Tell the Story is as well-equiped as it could be.
This album isn’t without a few flaws, but it comes damn close to being everything I want in a gothic metal album. Seeing as it’s only Beyond Forgiveness’ second album, I think it’s safe to say that their third (if it comes) will be something special.
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