When Battle Beast guitarist and co-founder Anton Kabanen left the band in 2015 shortly after their third album Unholy Savior (Nuclear Blast) had topped the charts in their native Finland, it left the remaining members somewhat unsure of their future. Kabanen had been the band’s main songwriter and having him leave at such an important time was a serious blow, one from which their fans and the band themselves wondered if they could ever recover.
Well, recover they most certainly have, and in quite emphatic style. New album Bringer of Pain (Nuclear Blast) is brimming with so much confidence that you’d never believe they were getting over such a turbulent time in their career. Opener ‘Straight To The Heart’ kicks things off exactly as you would want them to and is quickly followed by the title track which sounds like Judas Priest smashing into Accept at 200mph. ‘King For a Day’ could be a sequel to ‘Touch in the Night’ from the previous album, and sounds like some kind of mad Heavy Metal Disco James Bond theme song written by The Bee Gees, Jeff Wayne and Steve Vai.
‘Beyond the Burning Skies’ features a chunky riff and an infectious chorus, the Eurovision Metal of ‘Familiar Hell’ sounds like they need to pay royalties to Rainbow, and the Tomi Joutsen of Amorphis assisted ‘Lost In Wars’ sounds like a leering Rammstein forcing themselves onto Abba down a dark alley. ‘Bastard Son of Odin’ is a loincloth full of Manowar riding a W.A.S.P. gallop riff to Valhalla, and ‘Dancing With the Beast’ is pure cheesy power-pop glitz that could have been used on the soundtrack to any Jean-Claude Van Damme action film during the 1980s.
By pushing the ’80s pop influences, big bouncy dance beats and keyboards even more to the forefront, doesn’t mean this is a lightweight album by any means. The guitars, courtesy of Juuso Soinio and new boy Joona Björkroth (brother of the band’s keyboard wizard Janne Björkroth) sound massive and the solos are frankly insane, the rhythm section of Pyry Vikki and Eero Sipilä still take great pleasure in pounding your skull until it cracks, and singer Noora Louihimo puts her vocal cords through the wringer on every track.
If you like stupidly catchy European Power Metal with ’80s pop sensibilities, then this is the album for you. The only thing that’s missing is a guest appearance from David Hasselhoff.
Maybe next time…