Released via Nuclear Blast, Berserker is the 2017 debut album of the Finnish power metal band Beast In Black. Founded by guitarist Anton Kabanen, after leaving the band Battle Beast in 2015 citing musical disagreements and other issues within the band, he formed the band with Yannis Papadopoulos, Kasperi Heikkinen, Máté Molnár, and Sami Hänninen. The name Beast In Black (as well as Battle Beast) is a tribute to the Japanese manga and anime series Berserk which many of the songs lyrics are based on and make references to. While songwriter, Anton Kabannen does utilize references and imagery from the anime and its events and characters he uses a lot of that to develop his own mythos of the band’s songs relying heavily on metaphor to bring the connections together.
Influenced by 80’s metal bands such as Judas Priest, Manowar, W.A.S.P., Black Sabbath, and Accept; Beast In Black blend the European, Melodic Power Metal format with elements of disco and EDM.
The Intro track, "Beast In Black" is a song about the cover character which also is influenced by the character Guts from the anime in his fight against his foes who have betrayed him and the army of evil spawns who continue to torment him in the aftermath of the 100 years of war. He is wounded, branded to die - yet he continues to fight with the rage and hate towards his foes that have taken away everything that he once held dear.
This is followed by the emotional "Blind and Frozen," which displays the virtuosity and range of singer Yannis Papadopoulos. At first I thought this song was a duet, until I realized that Yannis is singing everything. I can't help but make the connection to the ABBA song "Lay All Your Love On Me" when I hear it. The steady disco drum beat, the bouncing synth melodies, and the powerful emotional tug and pull of the chorus. This is a song about love and the longing in the absence of the person you once held dear and the emotions and memories that associate.
While this song doesn’t overtly have any obvious references to the Berserk anime like the other songs on the album. There are themes in the song which are prevalent in anime. The bridge of the song has a cry out of “Destiny, is this how it should be?” and in the search for your own destiny, we miss the people and loved ones who get left behind or lost in our journey, and the regrets of our hearts being “Blind and Frozen” in the moments in which we make decisions that break those relationships.
The album continues with the catchy sing-along song "Blood Of a Lion," which was considered to be a Battle Beast song for the Unholy Savior album, but Anton decided not to use it then.
Right after the pounding song "Born Again," "Zodd The Immortal" enters the battlefield with its Judas Priest influenced attack, doing an inversion of the legendary "Painkiller" riff. The drums are fast and aggressive. The vocals go from an aggressive almost percussive yell to the soaring clean vocals on the chorus. Not to mention the epic banshee-like high notes which just scream Rob Halford to me, which Yannis does his own take on the Rob Halford vocal style throughout the album.
This song is about one of the recurring villains in the anime, Zodd the Immortal, a Nosferatu (vampire) warrior who has killed thousands of adversaries on the battlefield. After intervals of inactivity and purported death, Zodd resurfaces on battlefields to continue his slaughter, which he has done unmitigated for over 300 years. In the show he appears, slaughtering the Midland Army who the main characters in the Band of Hawk are fighting for at this time. Guts goes in to take out the Beast as he is one of the strongest and most capable warriors to do so. Confronting Zodd he transforms into a mighty Demon form. He mortally wounds one of his allies, leaving him incapacitated and Guts continues the struggle to defend his ally and fight back against the beast. It is here when Zodd realizes something about the two of them and stops his rampage, relaying an omen about both of their destinies which is referenced in the chorus of the song.
"Fifth Angel" is a straightforward power metal track which is about the creation and evil power-lust of one of the main characters who becomes the arch enemy and rival to Guts in the anime.
The disco, dance influenced "Crazy, Mad, Insane" gives the listener a breather in the middle of the album. This song speaks of the reputation struggle of Guts from the anime as the 'Fifth Angel' is seen as the hero and ruler of this new world, and Guts is seen as the crazy, mad, and insane "Black Swordsman" who is feared by the other humans of the world.
The next track is the keyboard dominant "Eternal Fire," followed by the epic "End of the World" which observes the apocalyptic decline of the fantasy world as the 'Fifth Angel' and his legion of demons set to destroy and rule the world.
The album closes with a classical heavy metal ballad "Ghost In The Rain," which was originally a Battle Beast song "River of Blood" from a 2009 Demo EP. Anton has kept the composition from that original demo, and has changed the lyrics to what you hear now.
The LP does not include the songs, “Hell for all Eternity,” and “Go to Hell” which are digital-only releases.
- Beast in Black
- Blind and Frozen
- Blood of a Lion
- Born Again
- Zodd the Immortal
- The Fifth Angel
- Crazy, Mad, Insane
- Eternal Fire
- End of the World
- Ghost in the Rain
Berserker was followed up with their 2019 Release From Hell with Love, and 2021’s Dark Connection which showed the band moving away from their Berserk influence and into the Cyberpunk influence of Blade Runner. The disco and EDM influences also become more prevalent in those later releases.