Artist: Mob Rules
Album Title: Beast Reborn
Date of Release: 24 August 2018
In terms of European power metal, you could do an awful lot worse than listen to Mob Rules. And yet, strangely, they have never attained the levels of attention that others within the genre have enjoyed. Whereas the likes of Edguy and Sonata Arctica have creeped into the affections of a wider, more mainstream metal audience, Mob Rules have diligently plied their trade in the tier below.
And I’m not altogether sure why. That’s because it is hard to deny the fact that Mob Rules have been very consistent over their 24-year career. Eight albums is not something to be sniffed at, with ‘Beast Reborn’ being their ninth. Those that know about Mob Rules seem to love them too, just as a friend of mine from the Powerplay days did. The Wilhemshaven-based band played Bloodstock one year and I was dragged along to check them out by a very excited Bruce, all the while giving me the lowdown as to why I should check these guys out.
I must admit that over the years, I have developed a bit of a soft spot for Mob Rules and so it was a no-brainer to check out ‘Beast Reborn’ when the invitation popped up in my inbox.
The thought once again crosses my mind as I listen to this album: why is this German sextet not mobbed by the power metal-loving masses? ‘Beast Reborn’ demonstrates a band that have the full package – strong song writing that covers the gamut of both quick, up-tempo blasts, right through to slower, more ponderous epics that build to the inevitable power metal crescendo. There are a lot of Maiden-isms to be heard, with lots of galloping rhythms, expansive lead guitar solos and a fair few melodic clichés in the minor scale as well as a few octave changes for an added dose of the epic. And, in Klaus Dirks, the band are blessed with a charismatic and talented frontman with an impressive set of pipes. And when done well, what on Earth is not to like about this kind of music? It is fun and, as is the case here, it is a hugely enjoyable from start to finish.
Admittedly, there’s an argument to say that Mob Rules don’t really reinvent the wheel or offer too much that could be considered original. But then, does music always have to be new, original or cutting edge? Sometimes, it is just nice to relax with the familiar, where you know exactly what you’ll get and you know you’ll like it. It might not shock your foundations, but it does what it does and it does it well. That’s exactly what ‘Beast Reborn’ does and I commend them for it.
After the briefest of cinematic intros via the title track, ‘Beast Reborn’ kicks off properly in the form of ‘Ghost Of A Chance’. It’s a typical up-tempo power metal barnstormer, with an infectious chorus and effervescent lead guitar solos. It’s no wonder that it was chosen by the band as the opening salvo and lead single, as it crackles and sparks with exuberance, setting the tone for the album perfectly. It also demonstrates the difference that a second guitarist, Sönke Janssen, has made to the band. Not only does the second ix stringer provide a denser, thicker and more intricate sound, it also ups the ante in terms of dual guitar harmonies that can be heard all over this record.
‘Shores Ahead’ immediately makes the most of keyboardist Jan Christian Halfbrodt, via a dark orchestral opening, which leads into an infectious melody-driven intro. Drummer Nikolas Fritz and bassist Markus Brinkmann lay down a solid, no-nonsense rhythm that acts as a strong foundation upon which the more grandiose and epic music can sit proudly. Dirks is on top form here, belting out some great notes, whilst the acoustic-led minimalism of the song’s mid-section is gorgeous, as the lead guitars whisper their laments, only to explode with force and verbosity as the pace and power kicks up a notch.
The hard rock-tinged ‘Sinsiter Light’ has an alluring stomping rhythm coupled with a strangely dark yet catchy chorus, whilst ‘Children’s Crusade’ vies for the accolade of my favourite track on the record thanks to arguably the strongest and most immediate chorus that’s chock full of hooks and energetic guitar riffs courtesy of Janssen and his longer-term partner-in-crime Sven Lüdke.
But if it is epic-style power metal you’re after, then you will need to check out the likes of ‘Traveller In time’, ‘War Of Currents’ and ‘Revenant Of The Sea’, all of which will scratch that itch with aplomb. ‘War Of Currents’ is, as far as I can deduce, all about the battle between Edison and Tesla in the 1880s to provide electric power. It is a brooding, sprawling number with a pompous sheen, vague progressive intent and a surprising amount of intensity as it builds to a climax, not to mention a couple of killer high notes from Dirks.
‘Traveller In Time’ starts in quiet cinematic fashion and, thanks to a grand chorus that rewards patience, it has the feel of a song much larger in scope than its modest six-minute length suggests on paper. In fact, I like this genuinely intelligent and majestic song so much that it pushes the aforementioned ‘Children’s Crusade’ very close. The synths are a huge boon here too, as they add that opulent and charismatic edge to proceedings.
Up last is a very poignant, almost melancholy ballad, ‘My Sobriety Mind (For Those Who Left)’, that features an unnamed female vocalist to duet with Dirks. It is led by the piano and synths of Halfbrodt for over half of the song, before it explodes with a very melodic and sensitive lead guitar solo, if such a thing is possible when it is blasting out the notes at one hundred miles an hour. However you choose to describe it though, it is a cracking way to see out the album.
Despite liking what Mob Rules have done in the past, I’m a little surprised at myself just how much I like ‘Beast Reborn’. Mind you, I’ve always had a penchant for professionally and passionately-executed power metal – and that’s exactly what Mob Rules offer here. Much of it might feel cliched, but I feel the dedication, the honesty, and the fun, all of which translates into the final product and which transcends the clichés to provide pure enjoyment. As such, ‘Beast Reborn’ is a power metal record that I have no hesitation in recommending.
The Score of Much Metal: 9
If you’ve enjoyed this review, you can check out my others from 2018 and from previous years right here:
The Spirit – Sounds From The Vortex
Aethereus – Absentia
Unanimated – Annihilation
Manticora – To Kill To Live To Kill
Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name
Halcyon Way – Bloody But Unbowed
Michael Romeo – War Of The Worlds, Part 1
Redemption – Long Night’s Journey Into Day
Distorted Harmony – A Way Out
Tomorrow’s Eve – Mirror of Creation III – Project Ikaros
Atrocity – Okkult II
Lux Terminus – The Courage To Be
Kataklysm – Meditations
Marduk – Viktoria
Midas Fall – Evaporate
The Sea Within – The Sea Within
Haken – L-1VE
Follow The Cipher – Follow The Cipher
Spock’s Beard – Noise Floor
Ihsahn – Amr
The Fierce And The Dead – The Euphoric
Millennial Reign – The Great Divide
Subsignal – La Muerta
At The Gates – To Drink From The Night Itself
Dimmu Borgir – Eonian
Hekz – Invicta
Widow’s Peak – Graceless EP
Ivar Bjørnson and Einar Selvik – Hugsjá
Frequency Drift – Letters to Maro
Æpoch – Awakening Inception
Crematory – Oblivion
Wallachia – Monumental Heresy
Skeletal Remains – Devouring Mortality
MØL – Jord
Aesthesys – Achromata
Kamelot – The Shadow Theory
Barren Earth – A Complex of Cages
Memoriam – The Silent Vigil
Kino – Radio Voltaire
Borealis – The Offering
W.E.T. – Earthrage
Auri – Auri
Purest of Pain – Solipsis
Susperia – The Lyricist
Structural Disorder – …And The Cage Crumbles In the Final Scene
Necrophobic – Mark of the Necrogram
Divine Realm – Nordicity
Oceans of Slumber – The Banished Heart
Poem – Unique
Gleb Kolyadin – Gleb Kolyadin
Apathy Noir – Black Soil
Deathwhite – For A Black Tomorrow
Conjurer – Mire
Jukub Zytecki – Feather Bed/Ladder Head
Lione/Conti – Lione/Conti
Usurpress – Interregnum
Kælling – Lacuna
Vinide – Reveal
Armored Dawn – Barbarians In Black
Long Distance Calling – Boundless
In Vain – Currents
Harakiri For The Sky – Arson
Orphaned Land – Unsung Prophets And Dead Messiahs
Tribulation – Down Below
Machine Head – Catharsis
Bjorn Riis – Coming Home EP
Twilight’s Embrace – Penance EP
Bloodshot Dawn – Reanimation
Rise of Avernus – Eigengrau
Arch Echo – Arch Echo
Asenblut – Legenden
Bleeding Gods – Dodekathlon
Watain – Trident Wolf Eclipse