Beyond Shadows – Beyond Shadows (Self-Released)Friday, 29th September 2023
Being an ardent follower of the underground scene throughout the 80’s and 90’s, this scribe got the fortunate opportunity to take in many new artists trudging through the demo stages in hopes of honing their craft to garner record deals for worldwide appeal. This East Coast act Beyond Shadows features two ex-members of New Jersey thrash outfit Midian, who released two killer demos in the early 90’s before disbanding. Drummer Chris Hawkins and vocalist/guitarist Daniel Shepherd continue their symbiotic outlook on the genre – this time striding confidently into melodic death metal territory with plenty of Swedish/Scandinavian influences for this self-titled ten song platter.
Choosing to develop material that contains plenty of those catchy guitar refrains next to pummeling, rapid-fire vocals and equally speedy drum parts, elements of At the Gates, Nightrage, and early In Flames crop up the most when taking in this material. Most of the arrangements are of the epic variety giving Daniel plenty of space to develop his circular harmonies, driving main riffs, as well as a multitude of melodic/shred lead breaks while his vicious, raspy main singing duties mirror the best of early Anders Fridén. When choosing to be a bit softer in atmosphere, you get tranquil contrasts in the almost ten-minute “My Love”, where the layers of guitars that shift from clean to heavier passages inject a bit of Nevermore/Metallica-ish semi-ballad accents against the normal Gothenburg-styled melodic death crunch. Versatility is present – the quieter, whispered opening verse during “Cursed” soon giving way to a super catchy mid-tempo In Flames-ish riff cavalcade, where Chris is able to flex his progressive drumming chops in spots, while their namesake song contains a bevy of bouncy hooks that should move everyone into stage diving or unison jumpy/pit activities. The vibrant cover art also has an interesting Maiden-esque atmosphere, where people can develop deeper affinity for the small details and the unusual green to grey/black color scheme.
By the time the two part “Enlightenment” saga concludes this lengthy record at almost 74 minutes, there will be little left to the imagination as to where Beyond Shadows stands as long-time melodic death aficionados. It’s been a banner year for this movement, and here’s another strong album to appreciate, devour, and champion.