With seventeen years on the clock and five albums already in the bag, Finnish sextet Battle Beast are back once again with another head-shaking, neck-breaking slab of electrifying European power metal. For those already familiar with the band then their sixth full length release, Circus of Doom (Nuclear Blast), will be like slipping into an old pair of comfortable, sparkly metal boots. For everyone else who may be interested, just strap on the nearest air guitar and prepare to grin stupidly for the next forty gloriously cheesy minutes or so.
Opening gently, the title track quickly metamorphoses into a swirling symphonic melodrama, punching its way into your ears like a stage show conducted by John Williams with anger management issues. Driven by guitarist Juuso Soinio and the pounding rhythm section of drummer Pyry Vikki and bassist Eero Sipilä, ‘Wings of Light’ and penultimate track ‘Armageddon’ both capture the sound of Nightwish meeting Abba in a head-on collision of melody and screaming lungs, keytar player Janne Björkroth adding to the mayhem as his fingers strut their magnificent stuff.
The towering ‘Master of Illusion’ is one of the record’s many highlights, a veritable tour de force of stirring hooks and chunky riffs. ‘Where Angels Fear to Fly’ continues in the same vein but features more prominent and dramatic orchestral backing while ‘Eye of the Storm’ features an outstanding performance from versatile and supremely talented vocalist Noora Louhimo.
‘Russian Roulette’ is another uptempo cut with an electro-pop music vibe and a ridiculously catchy chorus while ‘Freedom’ possesses a fierce and energetic gallop and contains some excellent fretwork from lead guitarist Joona Björkroth. The euphoric ‘The Road to Avalon’ sounds like a metallized Bonnie Tyler/Jim Steinman collaboration that could have been used during almost any ’80s training montage before the album delivers its rousing, anthemic climax in the shape of ‘Place That We Call Home’.
Perhaps in a response to criticism directed towards some of the more lightweight content of their previous release, Battle Beast make a somewhat surprising move for a power metal band of this nature, in that the album notably contains absolutely no ballads. Louhimo still gets to show off her vulnerable side as well as her rough-edged war cries but there is nothing here to needlessly slow the momentum. Instead, the band have produced a tightly woven and strongly consistent record with no lulls or flights of self-indulgent fancy. Although slightly more serious in tone than some of their other European counterparts, Circus of Doom still bubbles with joyous effervescence as Battle Beast’s thumping brand of Eurometal heads straight for the repeat button.
Buy the album here: https://bfan.link/circusofdoom
8 / 10