Old Season - Beyond The Black

Old Season - Beyond The Black

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(CD, Pure Steel Records, 2017)

I don't remember if it was a friend who sent me OLD SEASON's debut EP, “Volume One”, or if I stumbled upon it on MySpace. I do remember it was striking hard though; I was fascinated by the fantastic melodies in the vocal lines and the mellow and dynamic guitar-sound. I had it on for weeks and it was with great anticipation I took on “Archaic Creation”, but to my surprise, that didn't do anything for me at all and just vanished into obscurity.

When “Beyond The Black” showed up, I didn't know what to expect and in this case it was a very good thing to dig in impartially. And perhaps, the first 1-2-3 spins didn't do very much; everything sounded good and the guitar sound I loved from the EP was there. But for spin 4-5-6, the impression skyrocketed and “Beyond The Black” kept spinning. The strong melodies and fantastic vocal lines started to settle and the greatness of the album to shine through. “Scavenger”, the second song, was the first to stick with the phrasing making it very catchy. There's still a desperation and melancholy in the music that I love. And towards the end of this one, somewhere after the solo when the vocals increase in intensity there's nothing to do but crank up the volume and enjoy it.

Dark and heavy “Chosen” has a more fateful tone but again, the dynamics and melodies are there. The CANDLEMASS-type riff in the bridge before the chorus works fine. The massive epic “Elegy” feels like a MANOWAR hymn and the build-up towards the second part of the song is fantastic. There's no real verse, bridge, chorus structure here and that I love. The third part of the song is absolutely amazing; the layers of guitars and other instruments working in the back and the vocal lines on top of it create such powerful music even if it still is slow, mellow and melodic.

One of the absolutely strongest things with OLD SEASON when I got into them was vocalist Frank Brennan; his voice is amazing on the recordings and of course I wondered if John Bonham, who replaced him could live up to his standards. Frank perhaps had a clearer and distinct tone in his voice but the nerve and passion John possesses trumps that, he sounds absolutely amazing on “Beyond The Black”. Theatrical “Rivers Of Cepha” shows another side of OLD SEASON and BEYOND TWILIGHT is the closest reference here. It's dark, dramatic and super-heavy and feels more evil than the rest of the songs on the album.

The songs I keep repeating for every spin (at least once) is the last two, “The Void” and grand finale “Nevermore”. “The Void” starts slow, low-fi, BLACK SABBATH “Planet Caravan”-ish which is very cool but it is when the whole thing kicks off the real goosebumps come. I just love it when a band uses such mixture with intensity and when the drums are doubled after the first round, yeah! Fantastic. Here, John uses that high-pitched voice again as towards the end of “Scavenger” and he sounds incredible good. Then, massive “Nevermore”, Doom-y and the addition of piano works exceptionally well in this track. Again, there are many different passages in the track which was a lot to initially melt but now, for each spin new details crystallize and that is what will make this album last.

There's not much to complain about in “Beyond The Black”; perhaps the vocals could have been a bit more prominent in the mix. But that's all I have. When looking at Heavy Metal / Doom OLD SEASON are absolutely one of the best when it comes to creative melodies, both guitars, keys and vocals and even if I've referred to other bands there's no rip-off, just similarities. OLD SEASON sure have a unique sound.





01. A New Dawn
02. Scavenger
03. Chosen
04. Elegy
05. The Journeyman
06. Rivers Of Cepha
07. Words From Beyond...
08. The Void
09. Nevermore


John Bonham - Vocals
Jimmy Blanchfield - Guitars
Jimmy Kiernan - Guitars
Dermod Smyth - Keyboards, Piano
Dave Copley - Bass
Anto Walsh - Drums