REVIEW: MOB RULES – “Tales From Beyond”
I remember when I was 10 or 11 years old and my brother showed me ‘Savage Land’; it blew my mind completely, and I spun the hell out of that disc for days, becoming an instant fan of Mob Rules. It was the golden age of European power metal, and that album greatly represented what the genre was all about. I always respected the band for being such an important part of my musical education.
Mob Rules is one of those acts that has never quite released a true masterpiece, but has never released a bad album either; Always regular (and even great at most times), the band has reached 20 years of activity in 2014 and show no signs of slowing down. Following yet another good piece in ‘Cannibal Nation’, Klaus Dirks, Matthias Mineur and company bet strong in ‘Tales From Beyond’, the ninth album in their solid career.
Curiously enough, the sound portrayed by Mob Rules is both characteristic and interchangeable at the same time, proving that when a band is truly passionate and competent in what they do, the results can be satisfactory. With ‘Tales From Beyond’, the story is no different. With acoustic guitar chords, the album begins almost in a Maiden-esque fashion with “Dykemaster’s Tale”; the very powerful yet soft intro bursts into a proficient riff accompanied by strong single-bass drumming and surgically-placed vocal lines throughout the almost nine-minutes opus. The chorus also features one of the best passages in the song, with those famed choirs that German bands are well known for.
After a good start, an atmospheric bagpipe intro paves the way in “Somerled”, another epic effort with special attention given to Klaus’ voice and the beautiful, galloping guitar-keyboard mix. “Signs” drops the ball a little, but is nevertheless a good bridge to the best song in the album in my opinion, “On the Edge”: mid-paced, with stellar guitar-work and laid-back songwriting, but with considerable density. This is a really strong representation of Mob Rules’ sound and the melodic power metal sound in general.
“My Kingdom Come”, which already made an appearance in 2014’s compilation ‘Timekeeper’, has an intro that bears an uncanny resemblance to Gamma Ray’s “Avalon”. “The Healer” and “Dust of Vengeance” are responsible for upholding the high standards of the album; they both deliver on that standard, showcasing a mature and comfortable group that knows each member’s strong points and abilities.
After that, at last, the title track comes in, divided into three parts: “Through the Eye of the Storm”, “A Mirror Inside”, and “Science Save Me!”. Standing at 5 or so minutes each, the tunes from “A Tale From Beyond”, can be easily viewed as some sort of epitome of Mob Rules’ career. I say that because the trio of songs has everything that has made the band what they are today: intelligent lyrics, fluid songwriting, emotional yet unpretentious passages, catchy riffs, prolific musicianship, and a unique identity. The first song paves the way in a classic power metal manner, while the second serves as sort of a “calm before the storm”, leaving the third to consolidate the opus as a truly inspired one.
Although not as strong as such pinnacles of their career as “Sun Serenade, Opus I, II”, “Savage Land, Parts I, II, III” or even “The Oswald File”, “A Tale From Beyond” does a great job living to the fans’ expectations. There’s also a bonus track on the digipack version of the album titled “Outer Space”, which could’ve easily been in the middle of the album instead. It has a good vibe and a catchy chorus, ending the album the same way it started: on high quality.
A great effort by a criminally overlooked band, ‘Tales From Beyond’ will not only satisfy your need for melodic power metal, but will also raise the bar for every other release in the genre this year. Very well crafted, full of nuances, and really fun, the album will most definitely become a fan favorite and will quickly rise up the ranks of better works by Mob Rules. This is melodic power metal at its best; buy it.