The Murder of My Sweet is probably not a band I imagine anyone is likely to have heard of. Certainly, when I was informed about them, my first response can be basically amounted to “Who are they?”
So, to make a long story short, they’re a symphonic metal band (which is already kind of interesting territory for Frontier Records: they don’t usually handle music of this sort) formed in 2006 by drummer Daniel Flores (who has been part of A LOT of bands in the past, but none of them are bands that most people are likely to be that familiar with, so I’ll leave curious folks to do their own research on that one!) and vocalist Angelica Rylin (who also has a solo album out which is more in the line of AOR than symphonic metal). Their previous two albums, 2010’s Divanity and 2012’s Bye Bye Lullaby, were apparently rather well regarded, although I haven’t heard them myself, and their style of symphonic metal is influenced by film scores, which arguably puts them in the same territory as Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody and Nightwish (although probably not as bombastic as that might sound).
So, no pressure on Beth Out of Hell, then! I personally don’t think it QUITE reaches the heights of those two titans of the symphonic metal scene, but it’s not a bad album either!
The band’s sound does, indeed, fit their preferred genre name of cinematic metal, as Beth out of Hell does bring to mind cinema soundtracks surprisingly frequently, even more so than Nightwish do (which says a lot when you consider Nightwish post-Dark Passion Play always sounds to me like the soundtrack to some lost and very bizarre Tim Burton movie…). I’ll freely admit I’m not great with my knowledge of soundtracks, so I can’t say what sort of film this album would be a great hypothetical soundtrack for, but it does have a few minor gothic elements to it which arguably pushes the album a bit closer to the sort of sound you’d expect from post-Tarja Nightwish (or post-Khan Kamelot, at a pinch). This might be an issue for those who expect a bit more from symphonic metal than Nightwish worship, but the comparison isn’t quite as easy as you might think it is from reading this, as the gothic elements don’t dominate the album at all: they help give the album a vibe that is reminiscent of Nightwish, but you’re very unlikely to actually mistake a song by The Murder of My Sweet for Nightwish simply because both have surprisingly different sounds once you look past the obvious comparison.
The actual songwriting is really, really good, if I’m completely honest! A common trap among symphonic metal bands is to focus so much on bombast that the songwriting suffers and causes the band to become easy to dismiss as style over substance, an accusation which isn’t entirely unreasonable if you’re tired of the huge amount of symphonic metal bands that seem to be popping up like mushrooms everywhere. This is not a trap that The Murder of My Sweet fall into: despite their genre name indicating otherwise, the band does keep the bombast down enough that it’s actually quite a relief to hear an artist in this style of music who isn’t trying to become the musical equivalent of Brian Blessed (not that that’s a bad thing!). Instead, you get a strong focus on the songwriting on this album, which is where the band truly shines due to some excellent composition work that, while not really adding anything new to the table per se, results in some truly great songs that should appeal to symphonic metal fans with little difficulty! If I had to pick a favorite track, I would probably have to go with ‘Always The Fugitive’, but I can’t say any of the material is bad at all!
The performances on the record are nothing really out of the ordinary if you’re used to symphonic metal already, but are still very good overall. Not really a lot I need to say here, if I’m completely honest: Rylin has a great voice that fits the style of music very well, all of the musicians do their jobs very well…that’s all I feel I need to say, as brief as it is. I guess I should highlight the voice acting as part of the album, as there’s a few bits of it across the album, but, beyond a few cases where I feel it could have been a bit better (the tail end of the monologue from ‘Hell on Earth’ could have done with a tiny bit more restraint), they’re mostly just OK: they don’t drag the album down at all, but they don’t add a huge amount to the album.
The production is pretty good. I do think the bass could have done with a bit more presence in the mix (although, once I did tune into it, I did spot that it wasn’t doing much of interest, so that might be why it got less of a presence in the mix) and I do think the symphonic elements could have done with being turned up in the mix a tiny bit (I felt they were sometimes fighting to be heard over the rest of the album), but that’s about the only issues I have with it. Credit to everyone involved in the production of this album!
Ultimately, this is a really good symphonic metal album that is easy to recommend to symphonic metal fans (well, OK, maybe not symphonic extreme metal fans…) and is strong enough to give a recommendation to people who want to dig deeper into symphonic metal.
Beth Out of Hell will be released on the 21st of August by Frontier Records. A promo copy of this album was provided for review purposes.