Independent (label)

13 September 2019 (released)

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There is a curious subsection of hard rock that has crept up in the past few years through an amalgamation of ’90s/early 2000s acts that never owned the airwaves back in the day due to their extended, progressive nature. However, now in the age of the playlist where the inhabitants of the airwaves are user-selected and don’t have to conform to radio’s confines, these proggy giants can thrive. Sure, their lineage reaches back to Sabbath’s cathedral inspired doom majesty and Pink Floyd’s mind-expanding, space-time pondering but they are direct descendants from acts like Opeth, A Perfect Circle and Tool. Evidence of their influence will be felt for years to come in every grand, dreamy, progressive, symphonic project particularly those whose subject matter leans towards the societally critical and the transcendental.

Lightning Hunter, the side project of Negativehate’s Charles Scandura, is a sprawling opus that explores energies both dark and transcendent as they pertain to humanity’s place in the cosmos. Beyond Beyond has Scandura at the helm of this vast array of instrumentation with only live drums outsourced to Max Sadie. The tracks get riffy when they need to but always in service to the songs which maintain a rich and complex story.

One is first struck by the cover which illustrates the “As above, so below” ripples through space-time indicating the journey about to be embarked on. ‘The Role of the Observer’ leads the album with an opus chronicling an epic saga. The low brass assuming the role of massive earthly bodies playing out their roles as the strings tell the tales of all the billions of organisms vying for survival. Live drums join the fray with a tom led beat. Scandura enters with vocals 2 1/2 minutes in with a distant reverberant croon. Chiming guitars weave into this slow-burning lament.

‘Giving All Things Creedence’ picks up some momentum with Scandura taking some melodic guitar leads. His vocals border on early 2000’s industrial metal in the vein of Static-X or Fear Factory. ‘Akashic Echo’ finds its way into Opeth territory with creative meandering lead lines that coalesce and dance with the bass and snappy, punchy drums. On ‘Pale Monolith’ the music takes on the mountainous tones of Mastodon or Animals As Leaders but with the falsetto coo of Thom Yorke. A definite album highlight.

Later album tracks ‘In Atheist Fashion’ and ‘Pieroma’ have Lightning Hunter really finding a sound of their own. Scandura’s voice hits a Peter Murphy baritone but doesn’t sit there too long. ‘Beyond Beyond’ bookends the album with a conclusory symphonic touch. Lightning Hunter’s latest record showcases them creating some sonically stunning soundscapes. The vocals have their lacking moments but hit the mark overall. The album touches on all those elements that tap into the pineal glands of those seekers looking to find more from their music than a catchy ditty. They want no less than the answers of the universe.

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