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.
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.Continue reading →
Ever since Hammerfall brought Glory To The Brave (via Nuclear Blast) by damn near single-handedly re-establishing traditional metal as a valid concern some 18 years ago, the traditional types of metal have existed in a vacuum. While even the most conservative of genres, thrash, updated itself in several directions via the urbanization and gangsterization of a Machine Head, or branched out into progressive and technical fields of your Voivod’s and Heathen’s, traditional metal (a sub-genre incorporating “HM”, Speed and Power Metal) seems happy to regurgitate the same tropes and styles ad infinitum.
I guess the clue is in the tag “traditional”…
Finland’s Battle Beast on their third album Unholy Saviour (Nuclear Blast) tick many boxes of the Speed Power Metal sub-genre confidently, continuing exactly where their second, self-titled album, finished; post-Stratovarius hard-rocking refrains punctuated with pacy Accept-influenced riffing, and peppered with rapid bursts of Pyry Vikki’s double-bass drum hurtle. Added to those ingredients are Noora Louhimo’s vocals, not a million miles away from Sister Sin’s Liv Jagrell (a band that Battle Beast share several aural similarities with) pitching from punchy mid-range to a powerful throaty higher register that give the band their quasi-distinctiveness and a USP.
As the album unfolds, it’s clear Battle Beast have three song types, the Symphonic Hard Rocker, such as opener ‘Lion Heart’, the ‘Freewheel Burning’ Speed Metal anthem of a ‘Speed And Danger’ and the softer, more delicate power ballad, of which ‘Sea of Dreams’ displays subtlety and grace and a softer tone to Noora’s voice, in a track that, while obvious in its dynamic climb, works despite its’ genericises.
With sprinkles of keyboards and dual guitars driving duelling descants, make no mistake the term derivate isn’t always a negative thing as Battle Beast do exactly what they set out to do, and this is a collection of well-crafted Hard Rocking Power Metal songs. The fact that there is nothing novel or innovative doesn’t have to put you off, it’s just a matter of whether you have room in your collection for an album that does exactly what you expect it to, that will share characteristics with several of its bed-fellows and is, ultimately, the very definition of “if you liked this band before, you’ll like this, if you didn’t there’s nothing on here that’ll change your mind”.