American thrash metallers Battlecross are back with their fourth album, Rise to Power (Metal Blade). The band, fronted by Kyle “Gumby” Gunther [vocals], have always shown little regard for dwelling on the same for more than a moment or two, but push it even further for their latest effort.
Anyone who has heard 2011’s Rise to Honor or 2013’s War of Will [both Metal Blade] knows that these guys are a seriously talented bunch of musicians, but Rise to Power feels like a step back, one that’s lacking what little focus that was there to make earlier albums enjoyable. Instead we’re given 10 tracks of largely repetitive, identical thrashcore by numbers. It’s competent stuff, but a largely tuneless mess of riffs and screams that smacks of throwing a lot of noise at a wall and seeing what sticks. It’s not a huge step away from their previous albums, but it’s just not that enjoyable.
It’s hard to pin down exactly what Battlecross sound like. Opening track ‘Scars’ boasts some enjoyable 80s speed metal leads somewhere in the final third, before ‘Not Your Slave’ strays into Lamb of God-lite groove with a bit of melodeth segwayed into the middle. ‘Spoiled’ could almost pass for early Megadeth before jumping off into classic In Flames territory. While they cover a lot of ground and amalgamate plenty of styles into their music, they never really settle on a definitive “Battlecross© sound”.
When they are good, however, Battlecross create some really enjoyable music. Unfortunately they throw in so much derivative chaff that it’s hard to pick out standout tracks; each one usually features a good riff or two and the solos are of the highest quality – ‘Spoiled’ is the best example of the quality leads this band are capable of – but it’s all quickly lost in the maelstrom.
With each track hovering around the three-minute mark, Rise to Power is mercifully short at only 35 minutes. If you like bands that make a lot of the right noises and take a machine gun scatter approach to riffs, Battlecross are probably for you.