Gildan's Guide to Good Music: Beyond Twilight - Section X

Gildan's Guide to Good Music

The world of music is a vast ocean of crap - join me on a voyage to the tiny isolated islands of excellence.

As the tagline not so subtly suggests, it's really easy to find terrible music - you have but to turn on your radio, and lo, bad music abounds. The good stuff though, well that's rarely quite so easy to find, and while some popular music actually deserves the accolades it receives[1], most excellent music languishes in comparative obscurity. And that's where I come in!

What I aim to accomplish with these articles is to showcase quality albums from bands you've[2] never heard of, in the hopes that at least one of the comparative handful of people who actually read my rambling and rampantly egotistical definitely quite humble reviews has found them useful[3].

Today I shall be expounding upon a band that only I seem to know about[4] - this is something I think should really be corrected!



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Beyond Twilight

Section X

Musical Genre: Progressive Metal
Running Time: 44 minutes
# of Tracks: 8
Particularly noteworthy songs: The Path of Darkness, Sleeping Beauty, Section X

Those of you who consistently read these articles of mine may have noticed a certain underlying pattern to the music I've proclaimed (in my position as the ultimate arbiter of quality!) to be excellent: I don't much go in for "safe" music. Whether it's soulful and haunting, quirky and artistic, highly technical and complex, or just plain old kick-ass fistfuls of awesome, it isn't pleasant but innocuous music with the depth of a pencil line.

I'm pointing that out specifically this time around because Section X, as a work of music, is very different from things I've looked at before even though it shares many individual stylistic elements, and it may genuinely repulse some listeners - because as works of music go, Section X is hideous.

To clarify that statement, I don't mean that it's musically rubbish or naught but unrelenting 'br00tality' or what have you, but rather that it's genuinely aesthetically unpleasant on purpose: I don't really recommend 'happy' music as a general rule, but the folks behind this album want you to be disquieted and unsettled (I'll go into why in a bit) and they've achieved that effect admirably - sweeping choruses and exquisite melodic phrasing meld with ominous counter-melodies and twisted lyrics to create something distinctly unlovely. It's bloody fascinating and musically brilliant of course or I wouldn't be talking about it here, but before I delve any further in my examination of this band/album, it's important to be clear that this is absolutely not pleasant upbeat fare you could dance to or should put on in the background while you do something else; it's just not that kind of music.

Beyond Twilight is a Progressive Metal band from Denmark that has been around for 10 years now in their current form - when they originally formed back in 1990 they were just called "Twilight" and played Power Metal; the name change went hand in hand with a major stylistic shift (though even today their music retains certain aspects of Power Metal, albeit given a prog-style spin). Section X is their second album as Beyond Twilight, and like the first one (The Devil's Hall of Fame) it's a dark science fiction/horror concept album, produced in a style that fans have dubbed "Cinematic Metal". And when I say "dark", I'm not kidding:

Whether you'd pick up on all or even most of that just by listening to it is debatable, but what you definitely will notice is the quality of the instruments and vocals - the heavy synthesizer-driven prog-metal sound evokes the science fiction/horror film vibe the band wants you to hear perfectly, as does American vocalist Kelly Sundown Carpenter's impressive delivery: he moves fluidly from sinister to sincere, vicious and snarling in one moment and sweetly crooning in another. Like Jorn Lande before him[5], Kelly can achieve the sort of monstrous quality many bands turn to Death/Doom growls to evoke while actually singing cleanly (albeit ferociously and angrily), and his performance is both delightfully morbid and disturbing or hauntingly beautiful depending on the moment.

When combined with the infrequent additions of choirs, strings, and spoken word dialogs between the man and his clone (campy and awesome!), the result is a mixture that amounts to a horror film about mad science... that you listen to. And like a film, you really shouldn't watch (listen) to this out of order (don't put it on shuffle) - typically concept albums are mostly just a conceit the artists have, and whatever they claim it's about will only vaguely apply to the actual songs they present you with, if you can even tell there is some underlying concept at all; that's definitely not the case with Beyond Twilight's creations.


Though I've embedded a song as I typically do, I strongly urge you to click the box that pops up inside the little window as soon as the song starts playing, as that will take you to YouTube directly, but with High Quality enabled - it makes a profound difference if you're an audiophile like yours truly. And with that, another entry in the guide to music that is the opposite of bad is concluded - join me next time when I review that album you totally love (probably not unless you're actually me; in which case stop writing my articles for me, my hands are my own damn it!).

Other entries in Gildan's Guide to Good Music

Orphaned Land - The Never Ending Way Of ORwarriOR
Guilt Machine - On This Perfect Day
Ride The Sky - New Protection
Karmakanic - Who's The Boss In The Factory?
The Romanovs - ...And The Moon Was Hungry...
Penumbra - Seclusion
Within Temptation - The Heart Of Everything
Octavia Sperati - Grace Submerged
Virgin Black - Requiem - Mezzo Forte
Allen/Lande - The Battle
Devin Townsend Project - Addicted
Todesbonden - Sleep Now, Quiet Forest
Katatonia - Night Is The New Day
After Forever - After Forever
The 69 Eyes - Back In Blood
Red Circuit - Homeland
Hurt - Vol. 1
Ayreon - The Human Equation
Nocturnal Rites - The 8th Sin
Witchbreed - Heretic Rapture
Arjen A. Lucassen's Star One - Victims Of The Modern Age
Agua de Annique - Pure Air
Joe Bonamassa - The Ballad of John Henry
Taal - Skymind

Want to be notified whenever I post a new Guide to Good Music article? Well now you can join the Guide to Good Music notification service group, and receive a notification whenever I post a new Guide to Good Music article! Huzzah.

[1] In which case it is certainly good music, but you don't really need me to tell you about it, now do you?
[2] Certainly true of the average person on the street, but there's always the possibility that as a member of The Escapist you have indeed heard of some of the various bands I review, in which case you get a (metaphorical) high five.
[3] Whether that's always the case is debatable, as these articles of mine generally don't receive a great deal of comments or views - but that's okay, since I write mainly to amuse myself. Feedback, while nice, is merely an optional extra.
[4] By which I mean no one I've mentioned them to has ever heard of them prior to me bringing them up.
[5] Jorn being the reason I know about this band at all, as he was the vocalist on their first album.

Interesting review on... interesting music. I can't say I'm completely enamored with it, but I've also looked through some of your other reviews and liked a lot of your suggestions. This series will come in handy when next I find myself in need of something new.

Also, I have a challenge of sorts for you. I'd like to know if there's any good Korean hard rock or metal. Ideally the lyrics would be in Korean, but English is obviously fine too. Due to my love of Taekwondo, I'm taking Korean for my college's language requirement. At times this means listening to Korean music, mostly K-pop, which is its own special brand of awful. It'd be nice to have something better, or at least less soullessly vapid to put forth in such situations.

WhamBamSam:
Interesting review on... interesting music. I can't say I'm completely enamored with it, but I've also looked through some of your other reviews and liked a lot of your suggestions. This series will come in handy when next I find myself in need of something new.

Also, I have a challenge of sorts for you. I'd like to know if there's any good Korean hard rock or metal. Ideally the lyrics would be in Korean, but English is obviously fine too. Due to my love of Taekwondo, I'm taking Korean for my college's language requirement. At times this means listening to Korean music, mostly K-pop, which is its own special brand of awful. It'd be nice to have something better, or at least less soullessly vapid to put forth in such situations.

Glad to have been of service on the "providing suggestions for intriguing new music" front.

As for the question about Korean bands, I honestly couldn't tell you if they have decent rock outfits or not - I know that Japan apparently has metal bands as Julianking93 has mentioned liking them in my last article's comments, but I don't think I've ever heard any real rock/metal from the far east myself. If I ever come across any I'll be sure to remember it though!

...How to describe this, how to describe this....

You're correct, it's not very pleasant. It's unpleasant in a pleasant way.....
If that even makes a little sense. But I'm a terribly slap happy person that likes upbeat
and cheery music, but I find myself liking this. It isn't my favourite song, but It's worth keeping around to listen to.

No offense intended, but to me it seemed arrogant to call every song on the radio bad. I personally am not a follower of most of the things on the radio, but I don't dislike it. I just don't particularly like it. You can't assume that just because it's on the radio, that it's trash for the ears.

GeneralFungi:
...How to describe this, how to describe this....

You're correct, it's not very pleasant. It's unpleasant in a pleasant way.....
If that even makes a little sense.

More sense than you might think - I had to sit and think for a while before I could put the paradoxical nature into some semblance of a proper explanation, and I'm not sure I really achieved precisely what I set out to say about it. But you seemed to get my drift, so it must have worked!

No offense intended, but to me it seemed arrogant to call every song on the radio bad. I personally am not a follower of most of the things on the radio, but I don't dislike it. I just don't particularly like it. You can't assume that just because it's on the radio, that it's trash for the ears.

In response to that I invite you to notice the qualifiers in my sentences like "probably" or "most likely", how I pointed out that it's "remarkably easy to find bad music on the radio" and not "all music on the radio is terrible!!1!eleventy!", and the underlying sardonic and self-deprecating tone that should tell you I'm not always entirely serious[1] - I like enough music that actually does get radio-play to ever just broadly and definitively condemn the medium as a howling cultural wasteland entirely devoid of merit (just mostly).

Popular music that's actually decent deserves its popularity, and I think it's great that a wider audience can be exposed to some decent tunes amidst the sea of pithy crap that labels flood the airwaves with - it's outside my specific remit to discuss it in these articles of mine though as my purpose is education rather than affirmation; I fully expect that my readers haven't previously heard of the band/album I'm discussing (as a fair few people who've commented haven't), unlike more conventional reviews that generally presume familiarity, which people read mainly to feel better about things they already own, heh.

But really, expressing a general distaste for the radio on this here forum is probably less controversial than making it known that you love the radio.

[1] I'm quite rarely entirely serious about anything on the internet, and if I say that I am I might be lying. You never know!

Well written review but the music is (as you said) disturbing. I like my music to make me feel happy or relaxed so this isn't really my cup of tea.

I never understood how these Prog. bands come up with their storylines as, let's face it, this isn't going to win any prize for literature.

Stranger of Sorts:
Well written review but the music is (as you said) disturbing. I like my music to make me feel happy or relaxed so this isn't really my cup of tea.

I would have been shocked to learn otherwise - you might find the music I'm planning on writing about next more to your liking though! Assuming of course that I actually write about what I'm musing about at the moment and not something entirely different (I've suddenly developed a powerful urge to use "Goth'n'Roll" in a sentence for some odd reason), as I am wont to do.

 

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