Conceived in 2013 as a solo project, Diabolic Night a.k.a. multi-instrumentalist, composer and singer Heavy Steeler has made considerable inroads in the broader metal scene with just one demo, 7-inch and mini LP. “Beyond the Realm” is the first full-length from the reclusive musician and stands testament to the fact that dark-coated thrash stays rust-resistant if forged with strength and style.
As such, the album offers an idiosyncratic blend on a traditional base, leaning towards ageless hard rock riffage, NwoBHM flamboyancy and early 90s blackness from Scandinavia at different times, thus truly going “beyond the realm” of bullet belts, studs and leather. In fact, both cover art and title refer back to a lyric line from 2015’s single “Infernal Power” as expressions of the never-ending battle between good and evil, which can be seen as a conceptual leitmotif.
Whereas all songs released so far stood individually for themselves, those on the full-length form one cohesive narrative in which the purely instrumental title track “encapsulates the general theme and outlook within slightly more than two minutes,” Heavy Steeler explains. “You can hear some particularly emotive guitar playing here, which was strongly inspired by Rainbow and early Uriah Heep.”
Among the likings the man from North Rhine-Westphalia has, you can also find sombre classical music, which explains why segments from Johannes Brahms’ ‘Hungarian Dances’ serve as brackets for ‘Odyssey,’ the record’s six-and-a-half minute centre- and, for the time being, masterpiece of Diabolic Night. “My interests are more diverse, which these new tunes will make very clear, I think.”
All the while, like in ‘Sovereign of Doom’ and several other moments, “the bass is not meant to be a mere background instrument but takes on a dominant role here and there to enhance the overall ambience. In this regard, I am much inspired by the magic Geezer Butler and Ian Hill evoked on Black Sabbath’s ‘Heaven and Hell’ and Judas Priest ‘Stained Class’ respectively.”
What remains unchanged and still audible as well is Steeler’s fondness for heavy sounds from behind the long-fallen Iron Curtain. “Because they were entirely cut off from the West, groups in communist Eastern Europe could create something truly unique that, to this day, never fails to drive me mad, whether it is Omega from Hungary and Polish Kat or MCB and Merlin from the erstwhile German Democratic Republic.”
Recorded in no less than three studios with the help of Nuctemeron's Christhunter on drums, crowned with a mix by engineering veteran Mario Scarpari and mastered by Patrick W. Engel at Temple of Disharmony, “Beyond the Realm” is very much an album in the original sense of the word, meant to be grasped as a whole from the punishing pummel of ‘Towards Forgotten Paths’ on to its intensely atmospheric finale ‘Descension Into Dying Spheres.’
Such oneness specifically appeals to the artist on other levels as well, for in the foreseeable future, he won’t swerve from the loner’s path he has been following right from the start. “While I appreciate the idea of a band as such, I prefer to express myself alone with Diabolic Night.”
Nevertheless, he has gathered a stable line-up to perform live, promising his first concerts under the moniker since five years for 2020 – apart from new material by summer, which is already in the works …