In case you’ve managed to miss it, BEYOND FEAR is the newest project of Tim “Ripper” Owens (ICED EARTH, ex-JUDAS PRIEST, ex-WINTERS BANE). And of course, with Owens at the helm, certain comparisons beg to be made in regards to the band’s self-titled debut. So, I’m going to do my best not to make those comparisons. All I’m going to say is, most of the inevitable comparisons and preconceived notions are pretty accurate. With that in mind, on to the review:
It should go without saying that Owens is an excellent vocalist, one of Heavy Metal’s finest. So the vocals alone make BEYOND FEAR’s debut worth checking out. The rest of the band members aren’t really exceptional, but are certainly good at what they do. All of the trademarks of a good metal album are here: riffs-galore, ripping solos and pounding double bass. There’s decent variation in the songs themselves, from balls out (“Scream Machine”, “The Human Rage” and “Your Time Has Come”), to mid-paced (“And…You Will Die” and “Words Of Wisdom”), to balladesque (“Dreams Come True”). The production by Jim Morris (MORBID ANGEL, ICED EARTH, etc.) is clear and powerful, as can be expected from the famed producer.
Unfortunately, all is not golden in the land of BEYOND FEAR. The song quality is not consistent throughout, as “Coming At You” and “The Faith” can both be labelled as filler. The lyrics are also a problem. While Owens vocal skills are unquestionable, his lyricism is lacking. The lyrics are simple and often clichéd, bringing good songs down a notch or two (just listen to the sappy lines in “Dreams Come True”). All’s not lost though, as the simple lyrics are at least easy to remember and fun to sing along to.
So, what’s the verdict on BEYOND FEAR’s debut? It’s a good Heavy Metal record, nothing more, nothing less. The album’s not without its problems, but it’s enjoyable anyway. If you’re a fan of Tim “Ripper” Owens, or just dig straightforward Heavy Metal, BEYOND FEAR is worth a listen. (Online June 17, 2006)