Album Review | You wouldn’t usually connect Croatia with good metalcore immediately. Yet still, the music scene is more vivid than one might think. Ranging from pop to dance, the country accommodates a great variety of genres. With many artists using their native-language, the number of English-speaking bands is manageable. Occasionally, a band dares to face the challenge. What Lies Beyond are one of them.
Coming from Solin, a small town nearby Croatia’s second biggest city Split, Ivan Šipić (vocals) and Filip Samardžić (lead guitar) founded the band in 2012. After several line-up changes, Ante Topić (bass guitar) and Ante Katinac (rhythm guitar) finally completed the band.
Right after recording their first EP “Transcendence”, the band members locked themselves in the studio to record their debut album Coup De Grâce, which was released in February this year. Mixed and mastered by none other than Henrik Udd, who has already worked with giants like Bring Me The Horizon, Hammerfall, Architects or At The Gates, the album leaves no doubt that the band thinks big.
With a sound that can easily be named in connection with In Flames, Asking Alexandria and Killswitch Engage, the band from Solin merge modern hard rock into first-class metal. Not only does the album show great production work, it also draws the picture of a band whose songwriting is characterized by longtime experience and distinctive musical skills.
Aggressive and confident from the start
Opener Turning Tides comes with a driving beat that makes you unconsciously raise your mano cornuta into the air. With a chorus to sing along, the song soon serves as a benchmark for what listeners can expect from the rest of the album. They won’t be disappointed, because the single Drink The Night Away is up next. Impressive guitar work and a catchy chorus form the soundtrack of an awesome saturday evening in the city.
Sometimes Sipic’s vocals remind of Marylin Manson, in some tracks they have the flair of a Jonathan Davis. They move in a pleasant pitch, not being too loud or to deep. Alternating between clean and rough vocals, the band presents a varying overall picture. This is demonstrated in tracks like Behind the Closed Doors or Nothing Left to Prove, where melodies don’t come off badly. To add up on that, Sonja Rogosic contributed her beautiful voice to the tracks Neverending Story and Confessions, adding another color to the album’s musical spectrum.
An impressive climax
Halfway through the album, the band surprises with Marylin Rose, Pt. 1. The melancholic piano piece expresses the longing for a person, Stone Sour-style. Putting nostalgia into sounds, the last few notes of the track seem like an open ending but the story continues in Marylin Rose, Pt. 2. Turning away from the melancholic, the song invokes to leave nostalgia behind. Classical elements interpreted by Yngwie Malmsteen-like guitars mark the album’s absolute climax.
The only reality
Like a sand under me
Falling quickly (Bitter Truth)
Normally, closing tracks are rather unspectacular. But with Bitter Truth, they close the album with a banger, offering riffs that Funeral for a Friend would be proud of. Musically showing persistence, the band holds up their middle fingers to an ever-changing reality that “slips like sand in your hand”.
Coup de Grâce as a personal but socio-critical album
Although the songs deal with broken relationships and severe losses, the tracks don’t lack a certain degree of socio-critical aspects. Like Edge of Sanity, which deals with an overwhelmed individual that is desperate about the world we all inhabit or Guilty Crown, which reminds us of the paradox of living in a world of endless possibility. The debut album lets us see societal problems from the perspective of an individual that is like you and me.
With Coup de Grâce, What Lies Beyond put themselves right in the middle of Croatian metal scene. By further shaping their own sound, the band can move something beyond the east. Surely, the eye of What Lies Beyond now turns to the rest of Europe, one of the biggest kingdoms of modern metal. It is for sure that their debut album paved the way.
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