Beautiful Sin - The Unexpected
AFM Records
Melodic Heavy Metal
12 songs (46'05)
Release year: 2006
Beautiful Sin, AFM Records
Reviewed by Crims
Surprise of the month

Beautiful Sin was formed by Pagan’s Mind member's Jorn Viggo Lofstad (guitars) and Steinar Krokmo (bass), along with ex-Helloween, current Masterplan drummer Uli Kusch. Rounding out the line-up is keyboardist Axel Mackenrot from Masterplan and vocalist Magali Luyten from Over Us Eden. To say this is a super group of sorts would be accurate. It seems all members have contributed to the song writing as influences from Masterplan, Pagan’s Mind, and Over Us Eden (to a lesser extent) are present (although in reality Kusch and Lofstad are solely responsible for the music). Overall though, the band’s sound is best described as Melodic Heavy Metal. This CD kind of flew under the radar for me and probably a lot of other people so if you’re a fan of the genre there might be something here for you.

Opening up the CD is a song called Lost. This is a peculiar track which I have dubbed a pseudo-cover. Musically it’s practically identical to Helloween’s The Departed (Sun Is Going Down) and the vocal phrasing is practically identical as well. What’s different then; the title, obviously, and subsequently the lyrics as well. I was a little baffled by this track. Obviously this song wouldn’t have been done if Uli Kusch wasn’t behind the kit when Helloween recorded this but the song bothered me. Not because it’s bad, but I really, really like The Departed… it’s an incredibly atmospheric and dark track. Lost fails to capture the same atmosphere as The Departed did and perhaps this was intentional, but with that being said the song loses a lot of its muster. With that opening track put aside the rest of the music follows a different pattern that mixes Melodic Heavy Metal with slightly modern “heavy” riffing rounding out the more traditional riffs. You have a few ballads throughout the CD and about two tracks which focus more on the modern riffing, but more on that later.

What set this CD apart from the rest for me is due in part to the vocals. For those who don’t know Luyten is female and thankfully we finally have a female Metal vocalist who does not sing in an operatic style. The operatic style has been done a lot and done well, and quite frankly we don’t need it anymore. Instead, Luyten provides us with a traditional, gruff, Heavy Metal/AOR vocal style with the obvious female touch (think a rougher sounding Lana Lane). The result is fantastic as almost every chorus was instantly memorable after just the first listen. More than anything else though, Luyten’s voice explodes with power rarely seen in a female vocalist. It’s never overpowered by the music either which is especially important since the keyboards play a main role in the music. Instead of providing background synth, the majority of the keys provide a lead or complimenting melody to the vocals and the guitars. Usually, the melody is so prevalent it provides the main theme for the song. That’s not to say the guitars are left behind, but it goes to show how impressive Luyten’s voice is. The actual sound of the keys is similar to Pagan’s Mind, more so than Masterplan, which potentially means Lofstad did the majority of the keyboard arrangements; then again many riffs have a Masterplan vibe so Kusch might have been more responsible for that.

The tempos vary from song to song but generally speaking the songs are up-beat with spurts of double bass. Considering this is Kusch behind the kit there is almost zero gratuitous double bass and it’s always very tasteful when used. No song is driven by double bass, and he instead relies on AOR and Heavy Metal rhythms to drive the songs. This goes hand and hand with the traditional riffs and melodies. However, most songs and verses rely on more modern riffing which basically consists of heavy, rhythm based riffs which you find in some Power/Prog Metal bands (such as Pagan’s Mind… who would have thought?). Though the Prog Metal “heavy” riffing is used, the music is not progressive. This in itself helps the music sound some what unique as well. Lastly, the leads are absolutely smoking and since this is from the wonderful guitarist who brings you smoking leads from Pagan’s Mind, this is to be expected.

In the end I really enjoyed this CD. The choruses were catchy and the experience of all the musicians involved resulted in pleasing music that has its own feel and sound. Downsides included a few too many overly down-tuned modern riff sections, particularly on Pechvogel which actually has verses that is borderline rapping. I hope this band stays together (as it would be considered a side-project) because there is potential here for a string of quality releases thanks to the song writing and musicianship capabilities of all members involved. Since it seems all members contributed to the sound in one way or another the line-up would largely have to stay the same. For those of you into Melodic Heavy Metal who also enjoy Masterplan and Pagan’s Mind then you’ll likely like this CD as much as I did. With that being said, a friend of mine who doesn’t really like Masterplan had trouble enjoying this on the same level as I did, so that should be a good indication of who will like this.

Killing Songs :
Take Me Home, I'm Real, Spark Of Ignition, Brace For Impact, The Beautiful Sin
Crims quoted 84 / 100
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