2008, Metropolis Records
Genre: Industrial Dance
Reviewed on 2008-10-23
It's been a long time coming, but Informatik is back and they've come out swinging. Their first album of all-new material since Nymphomatik in 2002, Beyond is frontman Da5id Din's best release yet by nearly any criteria.
One thing you'll notice right off the bat is that Beyond is also Informatik's most accessible album. Nearly every song has a bridge to an extended chorus, and gone are the harsh, distorted vocals of the group's earlier efforts, in favor of Da5id's lower baritone register. The found sound collages and vocal samples that are a staple of the industrial dance scene are nowhere to be found, elbowed out by Battery Cage's Tyler Newman's more rock-influenced guitar lines that blend into the electronics without overpowering them. Not many bands would dare combine a crunchy guitar lead with a progressive trance swell and crescendo, but that's exactly what Informatik does on "As We Lay Silent"--and it works well.
Beyond is well-paced, warming you up with "Nothing Greater," a melodic ode to the here and now. After that we're hit by two of the heaviest songs on the album before settling into a groove. Lyrically, Din draws heavily from the 3 L's: love, loss, and longing. The lyrics would never be confused for a volume of poetry, but when sung, Da5id's naked delivery is convincing, and he occasionally pulls out a gem like when he asks, "How long will circumstance own me?" in the song "Second Chance."
The biggest problem with putting out a release with only ten songs after such an extended absence is that if any of them fall flat, fans are sure to notice. On Beyond, "My True Love" sticks out as the sour grape in the bunch--not that it's bad, per se, but it should be better. The background vocals are a singularity, but unfortunately the risk doesn't pay off. The chorus is still quite catchy, but the poorly mixed backup is inexplicably distracting, as it sounds more like Harmonizer-era Apoptygma Berzerk than Informatik. The verses are also a bit sloppy, with a lot more accent creeping in around the edges of Din's normally impeccable enunciation.
The good news, though, is that "My True Love" is really the only weakness in an otherwise stellar collection of songs. Beyond will reach out and grab you with its ridiculously catchy hooks, and you'll start singing along after the first listen through. Unless your parents were bludgeoned to death by a synthesizer, there's really no excuse not to love this album.