*Deep beneath the swamps of Jersey, scientists mill frantically around a patient who hasn't long to live.*
Scientist #1: Well, the corpse of the Misfits has been defiled by just about everything imaginable. What's left of the flesh is covered in their own Misfits brand piercings. See those green spots? Looks like it was suffering cashcow-itis before it finally croaked.
Scientist #2: But we need him more than ever! How will we survive?
Scientist #1: Well, I say we all get drunk, because I'm all out of ideas.
*Scientist #3 runs breathless into the room*
Scientist #2: *excited* Well? What's the news?
Scientist #3: There's good news and bad news. The good news is that I just saved 15% on my car insurance. The bad news is that the data is right. It's on the deathbed, and all the tests come out negative.
Scientist #2: Freeman, this is no time for jokes!
Scientist #3: On the off chance that a fresh pair of eyes will make a difference, I brought a friend of mine over from Japan. It's a long shot, but Goddamnit, we have to try.
Scientist #1: Does that mean I have to stop drinking?
Scientist #2: Have you ever? Bring him in!
*in walks a Japanese scientist, who walks over to the table, and is handed the clipboard by Scientist #1, now into his second beer. Pausing for a moment, after reviewing the clipboard's contents, the Japanese scientist speaks*
Japanese Scientist: Do you have any Undertones DNA?
Scientist #3: We do. Why do you ask?
Japanese Scientist: Because if you can procure some Ramones DNA and some Undertones DNA, I think some of my country's specialists can help him. A man barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.
Scientist #1: No joke?
Japanese Scientist: I am as serious as a -- how do you say? Heart attack.
Scientist #1: Hot damn! Hank, don't let me down. Get the boys on the horn, tell them we need this stuff stap.
Scientist #2: Yessir!
*Twenty-four hours and the next flight from New York to Osaka later*
Scientist #1: Wow. Swanky digs.
Scientist #2: You don't say. This place is state of the art. Is that one of those new "woah-oh-oh" machines? Even the boys down at Vtech don't have that.
Scientist #3: Some of the guitar tones here are good enough to rival those in the States. So lemme wrap my head around the operation: We're going to take the corpse of the Misfits, inject some Ramones, Undertones, put some Cramps over the more diseased splotches, and then turn on the electricity?
Japanese scientist: More or less, Gordon.
Scientist #2: This was pretty desperate, wasn't it, Frink?
Scientist #1: Damn right, McCoy, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Scientist #2: I secretly added a little Bouncing Souls to the woah-oh-oh machine, just to fortify it.
Scientist #3: Good thinking. We can't be too careful.
*in walks more Japanese scientists*
Scientist #1: Well? How'd it go?
Japanese Scientist #2: Well, it's a complete success. He's alive, and moving around quite well. My colleagues and I have taken to calling him Balzac.
*cue eerie theme music, dark voice over*
Voiceover: And, thus, out of the city of Osaka comes Balzac, ready to grip the world in its dark madness. Or something.
As for the music contained on the CD, there's nothing to say except it is of conspicuously high quality. As for the packaging, I can understand a short insert, but the label and group was pitifully shortsighted not including a lyric sheet anywhere in the CD. According to allmusic.com, Beyond The Darkness contains re-recordings of selections from 5 previous Balzac full-lengths, or in layman's terms, Balzac's Ten Years And Running. It's a Japanese group, singing in English, sent over to USA. You'd think someone would have thought about a lyric sheet, but I guess not. Unlike Brain Failure's American Dreamer, words are critical, and their absence just frustrates listeners.
There is a bonus DVD that comes with the CD, and it really is a bonus DVD, just 4 music videos and the making of the CD. Unfortunately, what had the potential to be a highly commendable bonus just ends up being solid because of lack of foresight. The "making of" is brief, but there's also no subtitles, and almost no one speaks in front of the camera. Thus, watching a bunch of guys grinding out songs in the studio gets boring quick with no point of reference or any idea what's going on except "They're tracking drums now." All the videos are more or less professional quality, and the live video needs no translation whatsoever, because the footage gets the message across: Balzac shreds live.
I'm hung up on the little things so much because I enjoy the CD. It's solid and excels musically in a genre where the hallmark is mindless fun. Balzac combine both for a CD that has neither filler or fluff, and is thus worth your attention (and patience) as you search through those fansites, desperately looking for lyrics to the song you think you're singing along to.
I love this CD, I really do, but I can't give it more than a 7 with a straight face. Had the lyric sheet been here, had more attention and care been paid to the DVD, had more time been put in on thisâ¦in this case, it all adds up to woulda shoulda coulda.
Regardless, Balzac's Beyond The Darkness is well worth whatever investment you make at the store up until $20, and worth the time investment of listening.
Some links that might be of service are:
- AllMusic's review of Beyond The Darkness
- The official USA page of Balzac Horrorwood
- If you can read Japanese, here's Balzac's official Japanese page: Official Japanese page
- And finally, the European Balzac homepage: HERE