The year 2001 was the highlight of noted vocalist Jorn Lande's career. He simply peaked that year with three different and amazing albums: Ark - Burn the Sun, his sophomore solo effort Worldchanger, and Beyond Twilight - The Devil's Hall of Fame. After his short-lived touring with guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen, there was little left to do for him to prove himself in the current music scene.
I have one thing to say about Jorn Lande. He is without a shadow of doubt one of the best, most amazing, distinctive vocalists of today. His voice is world class, rich, and spans a quite large range. He can go from singing very calm and smoothly to a very gritty and aggressive style, which he perfectly exhibits on The Devil's Hall of Fame. So, if you're only familiar with his earlier hard rock driven back catalog such as The Snakes, his first solo album and the self-titled Ark debut, his stuff with Vagabond (a Norwegian hard rock band featuring TNT guitarist LeTekro), the melodic hard rock/metal band Millenium, or Nikolo Kotzev's Nostradmus (with Joe Lynn Turner), I think you will be pleasantly surprised. Because this album is the most aggressive album in his entire career. His singing is incredibly assertive yet still soulful.
Beyond Twilight, while a new name, was actually formed back in 1992. Their original name was Twilight and they had a different singer, namely Anders Engberg, who joined Lion's Share and then Section A respectively. Also, although most people recognise Beyond Twilight as "one of Jorn Lande's bands", the main man behind the band is Finn Zierler. He plays the keys, provides backing vocals, and (co)-writes each and every song. All eight tracks on The Devil's Hall of Fame were written by Zierler and Lande, except the two instrumentals which were both composed by Zierler himself.
The keyboards are very subtle and suggestive through the entire album. Right from the first song "Hellfire" they set the mood and define the ultimate direction of the record. Zieler's trade mark tone is widely prevalant on all the songs and they are very distinctive in all the arrangements. The guitars are also amazing, but no where near as subtle as Lande's vocals and Zierler's keyboards. Anders Lindgren lays down the bass and ex-Twilight drummer Tomas Freden sits behind the skins. Both of them provide fitting rhythm sections, but like I said, the main standout aspects of the album are Lande's killer vocals and the masterfully crafted keyboards and compositions.
Tommy Hansen, mostly known for his work with Helloween, handled the production duties and he pulled off a flawless job. Excellent mix of instrumentation and perfect clear production! He also produced Lande's Worldchanger.
The album itself is based on a quite interesting storyline, though I don't pay as much attention to it as I do to the beautiful compositions and Lande's vocals. The concept is about a man who uses a computer to hack into his own mind and explore the disconnected parts of his spirit. As he enters his mind, he is awfully shocked at what he faces. He begins to deal with the unwanted events in his life and gradually develops an attitude.
I happen to love every single song on this CD; but if I were to make choices I'd go for the opening song "Hellfire" for its incorporating all metal elements and mixing them up perfectly in one form to create the sound of Beyond Twilight. The guitar work is magnificent on this track. I think it could have been even better if Zieler had given Ericson a bit more space to lay down some more solos as opposed to playing mostly rhythm. The third track "Shadowland" is definitely my favourite off of this album. Not only is it my favourite on this album, but I consider it one one of the best songs that Lande has ever sung in his life. It contains everything you might be looking for in a composition: rawness, aggressive singing, dark atmosphere, great musical performance, thought provoking lyrics. Lande shifts from the most assertive styles to a very 80's driven clean delivery. Simply amazing! Zierler's instrumental wizardy on the following track gives us a few minutes to catch our breath before "Crying" kicks in. It's another personal favourite. Lande has NEVER sung like this before. It is unbelievable what he can do with his voice. I am glad Zierler let Lande co-write the songs, cause I don't think he would have sounded so emotional and soulful if he was singing someone else's lyrics. Each word he utters drips with emotion.
The title track is also the longest song on the album. It is very progressive stylistically combining various vocal harmonies, Latin lyrics, odd time signatures, keyboard and guitar solos, interesting tempo changes. Beautiful. The chorus in the end is fantastic! "Perfect Dark" successfully closes the album; by now Lande's singing sounds a lot more calm than it does on the first four songs.
I have no idea if Lande plans to work with Zieler on a follow-up to this wonderful album since he is now fully dedicated to his new band Masterplan. Whatever it is, I really hope he and Zieler do something together in the future, because it seems like they have a great chemistry when they compose together.
- Godless and Wicked
- Devil's Waltz
- Devil's Hall of Fame
- Closing the Circle
- Perfect Dark