Right off the bat, let me tell you that reading the accompanying blurb and discovering that “Diabolic Night” is essentially a one-man band had me face-palming. While there are some notable exceptions, in my experience, most of the worst, most self-indulgent music that I have reviewed for this website have been at the hands of people with a “singular vision”. Yet, I am very happy to report that the curse of the one-man band is not present here, because while multi-instrumentalist, composer and singer “Heavy Steeler” is the main driving force behind Diabolic Night (though joined here by drummer Christhunter), “Beyond the Realm” is a bloody fun listen.
If you’re a fan of blackened thrash in the vein of, say, Sweden’s Bewitched, or Australia’s Destroyer 666, you’re going to be in for a treat. Very much an album which wears its old-school metal influences on its sleeve, “Beyond the Realm” has that sweet, sweet mix of Teutonic flavoured thrash, high rasping black metal vocals and incredibly rapid tremolo picking with some incredibly tasty guitar melodies and solo work. Third track “Crescent Moon Rise” has an opening gallop so infectious it should be contained within an airtight tent. “In Retrobution” sounds like Destruction and Schizophrenia-era Sepultura meeting up with vintage Swordmaster at a “keep it true” convention. Elsewhere, the title track itself is a two minute-odd instrumental number with more than a few nods to vintage Maiden (no bad thing), with the benefit of a very old-school production number, which favours the icy tones of the guitars here, and a punchy almost eighties sounding bass and dry drums. Epic number “Odyssey” comes off like it was ripped direct from the album that Mercyful Fate didn’t write, packed full of immensely satisfying Denner-Und-Sherman guitar action.
Is this just an exercise in nostalgia? A reasonable question I suppose, but I really don’t think so. I don’t think there are any tongue-in-cheek, irony-heavy pretensions to mock the best of heavy metal – actually the attention to detail from everything from having instruments well played, to having melodies that stick around for longer than they take to play, and having an album that weighs in at a mere nine songs are all aspects of yesteryear that I am happy to take. So yes, there is an occasional air of naivete within the numbers – I could do without the snippets of classical music that book mark Odyssey, for instance, but when I hear the opening strains of “Infernal Power” – all light-speed thrash riffing and cavernous, echoey sounding vocals, I can forgive them. Why? Because this stuff is really good. It hearkens back to an age where extreme metal wasn’t about how many poly-rhythms the drummer could play, or how authentic the Sumerian mythology in the lyrics were – no, this is music that takes the earnest application of heavy metal from the tail end of NWOBHM, the technical skill of thrash and the none more evil atmosphere of that era, and adds some fresh twists. Frankly, if this is what Heavy Steeler can achieve as a one-man band, why would he seek a whole band?
I absolutely lapped this up, and it’s a sheer joy for me to listen to. More please!
(9/10 Chris Davison)