by Maria Kouvarou (m.ouv.)
* για Ελληνικά πατήστε εδώ
When What Lies Beyond contacted us to let us know about their fresh debut album release I was both delighted and curious. It is indeed not every day that you get to lay your hands on some music that you would otherwise not have had the chance to hear because, come on, no one can really know everything that is released in countries other than their "usual suspects" (that is, one's base, the countries that are more powerful in the genres one really really loves, and the Anglo-American centres). Speaking solely from my own personal position, had it not been What Lies Beyond's communication with Aegis, I would not have known about this band from Solin, Croatia (ahh, the perks of doing what we do).
Although when I review I always prefer to focus on the music as such, it is better in this case to keep you in the loop, with a brief introduction. What Lies Beyond is a modern hard rock/metal band formed in 2012 which, as is most often the case, experienced various ups and downs and line up changes until it reached its current form. Coup De Grâce, released on 2nd February 2019 is the follow up of their 2015 EP Transcendence. The album was mixed and mastered by Henrik Udd (Bring Me The Horizon, Hammerfall, Architects, At The Gates…) and its appearance was preceded by the release of three singles, "Bitter Truth", "Marilyn Rose Pt.2" and "Drink The Night Away" that paved the way for what one can expect from the band.
Coup De Grâce, with an artwork that immediately caught my attention, is a quite straight-forward album, built with 11 songs that revolve around the genres of music the band itself claims to serve. Hard rock and metal. For the most part there are no surprises in there, each song is based on a formula that millions have heard, loved, and head banged to before. And this is not bad. On the contrary, there is something strangely comforting in immersing yourself within fresh versions of familiarity, something that allows you to just let yourself relax (relax here is metaphorical, since the album is full of energy and high speed levels) and just deal with subjects that affect us all in the everyday life. Personal struggles, love and heartbreak, feelings of injustice, and maybe... the need to "drink(ing) the night away". And, though it might sound superficial, I don't think it is. It is rather the "bitter truth".
And this is where I believe that What Lies Beyond did well where other new bands that attempted to trail this path have failed. They followed their favourite styles with absolute integrity. Really, you can hear clearly a lot of their influences in there. From the legacies of Metallica and Iron Maiden to the youth-driven strains of Breaking Benjamin and Bullet for my Valentine. Of course, many others are to be identified. But in a curious way, and I do not know whether this has to do with the particularities of the band's country of origin, they do sound fresh, albeit in a familiar way.
Among the 11 songs there some that could be immediate hits, but still not many surprises to be looking for in the overall. What you can find in tones in the album is a youthful drive and an excitement that gets you right away. Anger, often...disappointment...the anguishes that precede adulthood... energy, energy, energy. And then the one piece that strikes you, mostly due to its difference from the rest. That is, the 7th track of the album, "Marilyn Rose Pt.1". A piano ballad, clean, stripped down, straight-forward, a naked honest song of love and hurt. And before you get the chance to start to wonder, What Lies Beyond bring you back to their reality with the next track, "Marilyn Rose Pt.2". Same title, same anguish, vastly different take. This interchange of takes on Marilyn Rose makes up for my two highlights of the album, which I see as one, for it is the paradoxical relationship between them that has an effect on me.
In general, musically wise, you can tell that the members of What Lies Beyond are all skilful musicians who own their craft. Every instrument is handled as expected for the genres, and all are working well between them. Parts are well written, well-worked, and the vocal style is ranging from mellow singing to growling, which provides another level of variety to the album. The addition of female vocals in some songs brings in that extra something and makes the sound even more interesting. As a production the album is well polished, but it is not your sparkly clean product at all times, which might be one of the things that separates What Lies Beyond from other bands of a similar stylistic descent that so often sound outspokenly commercial.
At this point it is probably better to stop showering you with my own opinion, and let you explore What Lies Beyond's music endeavours with your own ears. You can find Coup De Grâce here:
What Lies Beyond members: Ivan Šipić – vocals
Filip Samardžić – lead guitar
Ante Katinac – rhythm guitar
Ante Topić – bass guitar
Marin Jakić – drums