Replacing axe-wielding lions and scantily clad, big-haired warrior maidens with vivid, futuristic imagery, it only takes a quick glance at the cover art of Dark Connection (Nuclear Blast), the new album by multinational power metal act Beast in Black, to see that science fiction and anime have played an integral role in its, er… inception.
The third full length release from the Finland-based act since guitarist Anton Kabanen parted ways with Battle Beast in 2015, Dark Connection delivers everything fans could wish for, ramped up to the max. Opening with the fast and furious cyberpunk cosplay of ‘Blade Runner’, the Eurodance beats come thick and fast with Greek vocalist Yannis Papadopoulos showing his more aggressive side. ‘Bella Donna’ produces the first of many stupidly catchy sing-along choruses, it’s driving rhythm matched by the thumping ‘Highway to Mars’ and the piledriver swing of ‘Hardcore’.
‘One Night in Tokyo’ and hook-filled single ‘Moonlight Rendezvous’ could easily squeeze onto the soundtrack of any futuristic manga movie, the latter featuring a catchy downbeat melody reminiscent of Fabio Frizzi’s score to Zombie Flesh Eaters. ‘Revengeance Machine’ is another titanic thunderbastard while ‘Dark New World’, ‘To The Last Drop of Blood’ and ‘Broken Survivors’ keep the melodic cyberpunches coming.
Power ballad ‘My Dystopia’ closes the album in style, six minutes of increasing melodrama topped off by a fantastic, versatile performance by Papadopoulos. Bonus tracks include a rousing version of ‘Battle Hymn’ by those furry loinclothed purveyors of True Metal, Manowar, and the rather more unusual choice of ‘They Don’t Care About Us’ by departed amusement park enthusiast Michael Jackson.
Evoking imagery from the likes of Battle Angel Alita, Akira, and of course, the rain-soaked city streets of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, Dark Connection hits all the right flashy dystopian buttons from beginning to end. Big cheesy choruses, huge riffs and solos from Kabanen and Kasperi Heikkinen, and surging beats from the rhythm section of drummer Atte Palokangas and Hungarian bassist Máté Molnár all combine into one joyous explosion of colour and uplifting android energy. So, unplug yourself from The Matrix, keep an eye out for replicants and just sit back an enjoy one of the power metal highlights of the year.
Buy the album here: https://bfan.link/dark-connection.yde
8 / 10