Karrier- Way Beyond the Night (1985)
Karrier were an obscure and short-lived New Wave of British Heavy Metal band that never had too much hope from the start. By the time their only full-length album Way Beyond the Night debuted in 1985, the scene was already struggling to remain in the metal spotlight as competition from the American bands became overwhelming. Stardom eluded this Birmingham-based five-piece whose biggest career highlight was probably opening for Magnum. And it’s really a shame, because this near-forgotten Unit Records album is an exciting listen from start to finish.
Way Beyond the Night revolves almost exclusively around love songs, and most of them have a cool and relaxed hard rock vibe reminiscent of an early Ted Nugent album. It’s always easy to tell which 80s metal bands grew up on Nugent, because they tend utilize those “Stranglehold” bridges where a riff gently repeats as the lead guitar trickles and teases over it, creating a hypnotic effect that ends with an almost anti-climatic tension release instead of a traditional crescendo. The perfect example of this is the song “Running for Your Love,” although it’s not nearly as long Nugent’s employment of this trick. It’s more akin to how metal bands such as Anvil borrowed this stylistic quirk for their debut.
“Too Late For Love” is the song that best embodies a speedy heavy metal sound, loaded with raw energy. Fans of cult classic but modestly produced NWOBHM such as Fist and Ethel the Frog are likely to find this track particularly palatable, but other songs such Going to Rock Tonight have an uplifting punk vibe that while as incredibly catchy and fun as a typical Ramones or Generation X hit, might leave some wondering how this got onto a heavy metal album. The truth is, it has enough metal riffs to make it an appropriate spark of diversity in an otherwise straightforward album, and is arguably the finest cut from Karrier’s very limited discography.
The best comparison I could make to another well-known metal album would be Crazy Nights by Tygers of Pan Tang. As many NWOBHM fans are aware, that particular Tygers album has always alienated a number of fans for its thin and lethargic production, and a lot of metal fans who have listened to Way Beyond the Night react similarly. I find that both albums take multiple listens to fully appreciate, as both albums are designed for the listener to enjoy the creative series of guitar riffs linked together rather than to be absorbed into some sort of heavy or energetic atmosphere, which is the approach most heavy metal bands take.
I give this album four-and-a-half stars because even though it is very moving and well-written music, numerous other bands have done similar things with even more powerful results. This is however a necessary listen for fans of NWOBHM, especially those with a preference for metal’s more melodic side and an open mind, and perhaps a more general taste in rock music that goes beyond just heavy metal.
-John Mahon III