Released by: Steamhammer/SPV
Release date: March 18, 2016
Genre: Heavy/Power Metal
Klaus Dirks – Vocals
Matthias Mineur – Guitars
Sven Lüdke – Guitars
Markus Brinkmann – Bass
Jan Christian Halfbrodt – Keyboards
Nikolas Fritz – Drums
1. Dykemaster’s Tale
4. On the Edge
5. My Kingdom Come
6. The Healer
7. Dust of Vengeance
8. A Tale from Beyond (Part 1: Through the Eye of the Storm)
9. A Tale from Beyond (Part 2: A Mirror Inside)
10. A Tale from Beyond (Part 3: Science Save Me!)
11. Outer Space (Bonus Track)
Every once in a while a band I usually like will make an album that it seems almost everyone else loves, yet I’m left terribly disappointed and pretty much count the band out, only to be won over again sometime down the road. Such is the case, with German melodic metal band Mob Rules. I was initially impressed by their 2009 release Radical Peace, and its outstanding choruses, especially on the killer up tempo track “Trial by Fire”, as well as the massive 6 part epic “The Oswald Files”. This left me very excited for their next release Cannibal Nation, but for some reason or another no matter how many times I tried, that album simply never clicked for me, and outside of a couple exceptions, the songs simply left me disappointed and at times completely bored. Checking out some of their earlier albums, Among the Gods in particular, made me think the band had simply gone downhill as even Radical Peace would have felt weak by comparison if I had heard it later, so I had very low expectations for their upcoming eighth full length release Tales from Beyond, but thankfully this time the band has not only bounced back from whatever went wrong with Cannibal Nation, but they’ve also made one of their absolute best albums to date.
Stylistically, Mob Rules have always played an ultra melodic brand of metal, equal parts German power metal and old school heavy metal, with the guitar work in particular often having traces of Iron Maiden, and with occasional symphonic elements. Cannibal Nation seemed to have dialed back the power metal elements for the most part, which is perhaps what made it seem a little bit tame and empty to me, while Tales from Beyond once again feels like the perfect blend of sounds: The guitar work certainly has that classic sound to it, the songs are often fast, the symphonic elements add flavor in places and most important, the choruses and vocal melodies are as strong as ever, with lead singer Klaus Dirks sounding as great as ever and at times certainly reminding me of Bruce Dickinson. I’d say this album has a bigger focus on up tempo songs compared to any of their past few albums, but at the same time it still has the epic scale of Radical Peace and it feels fairly similar to that album overall.
One thing I’ve always found with Mob Rules is that even though I enjoy most of their albums overall, they always tend to have at least one huge standout track per album that instantly demands my attention and that I keep going back to over and over. For example, their debut Savage Land had the unforgettable “Rain Song”, a song so good I’ve heard other bands “borrow” its main melody, Among the Gods had the incredible opener “Black Rain” and of course I already mentioned Radical Peace and it’s instant classic “Trial by Fire”. Well, this album has one of those as well, and it comes right at the start. At almost 9 minutes long, opening track “Dykemaster’s Tale” is an exceptional song that has unmistakable Iron Maiden influence throughout, from its calm extended intro, to the main melody to the chorus, to the seamless tempo changes, everything feels like the heavy metal legends at their best, except with a stronger emphasis on drums over bass. They of course go a step further with the symphonic elements, especially during the instrumental section in the middle, and everything comes together perfectly to make it an outstanding track and one that’s certainly up there with the band’s all time best.
With an opening track that good, the band could have just phoned it in for the rest of the album and probably not received too much criticism, but thankfully that didn’t happen. In fact, while Among the Gods is probably still my favorite Mob Rules album, I’d say Tales from Beyond may be their most consistently entertaining one, with no less than great songs throughout. Fans of the more traditional heavy metal side of the band should enjoy tracks like “Somerled”, which opens with a nice bagpipe section before turning into a pretty heavy mid tempo track with another great chorus, and again has strong Maiden Influence “Signs”, a slower song with an excellent main riff, and the single “My Kingdom Come”, which starts off slow with just a bit of guitar work, before picking up momentum with the chorus where the symphonic elements come out in full force. I tend to prefer the speedier tracks on this album, but the latter in particular is quite epic and extremely enjoyable once it gets going.
Power metal fans like myself who were perhaps disappointed with Cannibal Nation, have more to look forward to on this album. Aside from the speedier sections of the opening track, there’s also the immediately engaging “On the Edge”, probably the most traditional power metal song here, as well as “The Healer” which has very strong symphonic elements and a sequence of nice guitar/keyboard solos, and “Dust of Vengeance”, which is probably the heaviest and most intense track on the album. There’s also a re-recording of “Outer Space” from Savage Lands as a bonus track, which is very faithful to the original while being updated to fit with the band’s current sound.
Lastly, we have the three part title track, which closes the album. The first part “Through the Eye of the Storm” is extremely epic and features some epic choir vocals during the chorus, before slowing down with some acoustic guitars to lead into the second part “A Mirror Inside”, the lone ballad of the album. It has a very nice guitar solo in the second half and Klaus hits some pretty epic high notes throughout, making it a great showcase for his vocals. The third part “Science Save Me!” is a bit slow as well, but it has a nice main riff and excellent chorus, to help close the album out in style. On the whole I don’t find this set quite as impressive as The Oswald Files, but it still goes together well and each part is quite strong on its own, especially part 1.
After being disappointed by their previous release Cannibal Nation, I’m very happy to that Tales from Beyond is one of the best Mob Rules albums yet, and features the same great mix of power metal and melodic heavy metal fans would expect, as well as a potential all time classic in its opening track. Highly recommended for all power metal and heavy metal fans.
Written by: Travis Green