Battle Beast. Look at the name, read it, say it, taste it. Then ask yourself if it’s possible to come up with a worse name than that. My first acquaintance with this band came a couple of years ago when I saw a couple of videos by the band on YouTube. I wasn’t impressed. Apparently, Battle Beast is a power metal band, go figure when you consider the band’s name. If there’s one genre where you can find the most stupid band names, it’s in power metal. Like Powerwolf. Hey, I just found a name worse than Battle Beast. From what I have heard of their early material, power metal is a correct label for this band. I don’t like power metal. Battle Beast hails from Helsinki, Finland and has existed since 2008, but it would take them until 2011 to release their debut album Steel and their self titled follow-up came out in 2013. You might have guessed by now that I wasn’t the least interested in the fact that Battle Beast were about to release a new album. Add to the fact that they had released a single / lyric video prior to the album release called “Touch In The Night” that has caused quite a stir. Why? Well, because Battle Beast decided on broaden their horizons a bit and release something really unexpected. “Touch In The Night” is not a metal song. It’s not a hard rock song. Hell, it’s not even a rock song. No, that song pays tribute to mid 80’s synth based pop. Think Sabrina or Samantha Fox. Think Stock, Aitken & Waterman. Yes, you have read right. Do I need to point out that the song sucks hard? I can totally embrace that artists wants to do something different and if you really dig it, then more power to you. I truly believe they dig this kind of music so, hey, more power, but it would have been really cool if the song was anything to write home about. With all those facts, why even bother listening to the album and writing a review, some might ask? Well, my curiosity took the best of me and I really had to listen to this album when everybody and their mother seemed to have an opinion of it. Now, I usually listen to music with open ears and an open mind, but I admit, with this album, I had the sentiment that this album would blow. I listened to this record with the intention that this would suck and that I would bring out the big chainsaw for this review and completely slaughter it. So, this is me crawling out in public with my tail between my legs…
Opener “Lionheart” bursts loose and immediately wipes the scornful smile off my face. Damn! This is good. This is really damn good.I hear traces of power metal here, sure, but I think of Avantasia and I love Avantasia. I also hear resemblance to the Swedish metal band Civil War, another band I really like. But mostly, it’s a pretty fast hard rock track. The title track surprises me with a cool Blackmore’s Night vibe in the verses, followed by a big chorus that is really catchy. “I Want The World… And Everything In It” is classic 80’s metal, updated with some big keyboards and super melodic choruses. There is also riffing, heavily influenced by Accept – this is great stuff! “Madness” is fast and furious, but unfortunately too much power metal for my taste. Skip button. “Sea Of Dreams” is the first ballad out and what a brilliant ballad it is. I think of late 80’s / early 90’s Yngwie Malmsteen ballads here – and yes, that is a good thing. Yngwie could write a killer ballad back then. There is also a celtic influence on it and I hear later day Nightwish. Usually I have a soft spot for plain metal, but “Speed And Danger” is too forgettable. When the song is over, I don’t remember a note. The horrible “Touch In The Night” follows, but we don’t need to get into that again. “Far Far Away” on the other hand is a real jawbreaker, a classic metal track with big Accept, Saxon and Judas Priest influences. Love it! “Angel Cry” is the real album closer and it is a great one. It’s a grand ballad – beautiful and grandiose with a melody that sends shivers down my spine – awesome! But as the last song on the album, we get a bonus track, “Push It To The Limit” and unfortunately, it takes the edge off things a bit. I usually complain about that the bonus tracks often are too good to be just bonus tracks, but with this one it’s just as well. It’s a plain standard hard rock track that really doesn’t go anywhere. It even contains ddrums (or some synth drum). It’s not bad, but I can both have it and lose it.
This album is a huge surprise to me. HUGE! In fact, this might just be the biggest positive surprise in ages. The album is bloody great even though there are some songs I could easily do without, but there are such songs on more or less every album. I also must mention new singer Noora Louhimo who replaced Nitte Valo last year. What a set of pipes! She really impresses the hell out of my with a wide range, melody and aggression. She can sing real clean, but she also has a raspiness to it that almost make her sound hoarse at times. I’m thinking a mix of Liv Jagrell (Sister Sin) and Darby Mills (Headpins). A fantastic singer, to say the least! Musically, I don’t hear that much power metal, at least not what I consider power metal. To me, this is a heavy metal record, albeit a very melodic one with lots and lots of sing along melodies. Their name might suck, but musically those fins has released one hell of a record. I’ll be damned!
Jon Wilmenius (8/10)
02. Unholy Savior
03. I Want The World… And Everything In It
05. Sea Of Dreams
06. Speed And Danger
07. Touch In The Night
08. The Black Swordsman
09. Hero’s Quest
10. Far Far Away
11. Angel Cry
12. Push It To The Limit (Bonus Track)