Friday, January 12, 2018

Beast In Black - Born Again

Nuclear Blast Records is my number one go to site and youtube channel to discover new music. Probably every few weeks I discover a new song or band I like, and every few months I find a band I really like. So, I stumble onto Beast in Black “Born Again” on youtube, I have no idea who this band is or what to expect, other than metal, and I tune in.

The video of “Born Again” is just the singer of the band getting pumped and then getting way into the song while he sings. My initial thought was, ‘this could be really lame, this guy is really getting into his own song,’ but my first thought once I was finished the song was ‘holy hell, that guy can sing, I am so glad he got so pumped up.’ This singer is Yannis Papadopoulos, and even though I have just been introduced to this Greek metal singer I am confident I will be a life long fan.

I was instantly reminded of Battle Beast. The sound was similar, and the name of the band was very similar, so I immediately began to wonder if there was a connection, and there was, Beast in Black’s primary song writer and lead guitarist is none other than Anton Kabanen, the former lead guitarist and song writer of Battle Beast.

In many ways Beast in Black is an extension of the three previous Battle Beast albums. The driving force of Kabanen is everything behind all of these beast albums, and it raises the question, why start a new band?

I have been reading every interview I can find with Kabanen and he is remaining respectfully quiet on the matter, but he has quietly revealed that a combination of the band name Battle Beast never being trade marked and some falling out with the rest of the band has cause Kabanen to move on. What is a man to do when he is driven out of the band he created? Start a better band I guess, because that is what he did. I really liked Battle Beast. I am so impressed.

It blows me away how great Beast in Black is. The band is great, and the album “Berserker” is one of the best debut albums I have heard in a long time, likely my favorite album of 2017.

Return to the song “Born Again,” this is a great song, but what is it about? It is a very intense love song, one of my favorite dramatic lines is:

“Love is a killer that never dies,
Murdering its victim with delight.”

Powerful stuff, but is there more? I think so.

You cannot name your band Beast in Black, and name your debut album “Berserker” without giving away the concept of your concept album. “Berserker” is a “Berserk” concept album, the band name “Beast in Black” is a nickname for the protagonist Guts. This is another extension of Battle Beast’s themes, as the “Unholy Savior” album had two very Berserk songs in “The Black Swordsman” and “Kingdom.”

I love the manga “Berserk.” I would go so far as to say that “Berserk” is one of the top five greatest fantasy stories ever told, right up there with “Lord of the Rings” and “A Song of Ice and Fire.” So similar to other bands, like Blind Guardian, who win me over hard by writing songs about my favorite stories, Beast in Black has got me on board for a Berserk concept album in a very big way.

The first track, named after the band “Beast in Black” is an epic power metal song describing the vengeful fury of Guts the titular character of the manga and anime “Berserk.” It is the most epic thing, possibly ever.

Beast In Black

That is obviously Guts' silhouette in the official lyric video of "Beast In Black."

I really love the song “Beast in Black” and the other obvious Berserk songs “Zodd the Immortal” and “The Fifth Angel,” but not all the songs are about Berserk, apparently. So, I wonder, is that first love song that brought me in “Born Again” is it about Berserk?

“I lie awake at night,
And dream of your return,
Behind closed eyes I see you,
Just the way you were.”

Oh god, this song is about Guts and Casca isn’t it?


Casca and Guts
There is a good reason why “Berserk” is called “Berserk,” and the protagonist Guts has good reason to destroy, murder and retaliate. The briefest explanation I can give is this; there is very little magic in “Berserk” up to the point where Guts’ best friend Griffith betrays the Band of the Hawk. The betrayal is demons show up brutally kill everyone and then eat them, except Guts and Casca, where upon the reborn Hawk demon god version of Griffith rapes Casca in a pool of her dead friends’ blood, and desperate to save her, Guts gruesomely hacks his own arm to free himself from the jaws of a monstrous demon only to have one of his eyes gouged out. Casca, understandably completely loses her mind and has been an invalid in the series since.

So yeah… that’s what the berserking is all about.

It is very heart breaking seeing Casca cower from Guts gruesome visage terrified of her one true loyal protector in a world now overrun with demons.

"Will we ever be the same again?"
“The diamond shatters and now I know,
How much pain it causes,
When you're gone.
All I can wish now's a miracle,
Miracle to reawake our love.

Do you remember the night we met?
Will we ever be the same again?
Inside the fire with my regrets,
Wish I could be born again tonight.”

Suddenly “Born Again’s” intensity is not just suitable but necessary. There is a desperate and devastated affection between Guts and Casca that may never be repaired, and the adventure of blood and fury is underlain with this tragic love, almost obtainable, so close, yet so out of reach. “Berserk” may be a Japanese comic, but it is of the highest quality story telling, and bold Anton Kabanen has written this deep powerful rock song that captures the complexity of all that story telling and all those emotions in what is probably best song of the entire year of 2017.

What I am trying to say is, I really like Beast in Black’s debut album “Berserker.” If you like metal and/or manga, it is a must listen.

- King of Braves

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