Since I used to be something of a band-name snob a while back, there are bands that I have missed out on which is, to be frank, pretty stupid. But as I grew older I had left such stupidity behind me – or so I thought. When I first heard of Finish metal band Battle Beast, I more or less refused to even give them a chance – because of the name. Telling myself that I will never again judge a band by its name, I kind of made an exception for Battle Beast. I thought that with a name like that you a) have to be a power metal band – and power metal is a genre I have little interest in, to use a mild explanation – and b) nothing good can ever come out of a band that chooses a name such as Battle Beast. So I just turned my back on them. Later on I did watch snippets of some videos on YouTube and since I didn’t like what I heard that much – not that I tried too hard to give them a fair break – I made up my mind – Battle Beast were a crap band! Fast forward a couple of years and Battle Beast, now with new lead singer Noora Louihimo instead of the original vocalist Nitte Valo, had just released their third album Unholy Savior (2015) and I got to hear from both here and there just how good it was but since I had no love for first single “Touch In The Night” – in my mind it sounded like something Michael Cretu could have released back in 1986 – I stubbornly kept on being the obstinate me and refused the band. Until one day when I thought, screw it, maybe I should just check it out once and for all just to tell people exactly how crap this band really is. You know the expression “tail between the legs”? Well, that was me after I listened to the album. I loved the damned thing and bought it right away and since then I have never judged a band by its name and I will never do so again.
When it was out that Battle Beast was about to release a new album, I was really looking forward to it. But there was need to worry. The band’s original guitarist and main song writer Anton Kabanen left the band – the usual musical differences was cited as the reason for the split – and since he wrote all the killer tracks on the last album, his absence was a cause for concern. Remember Evanescence? They released a brilliant debut album and when their song writer Ben Moody quit, Evanescence never managed to come close to the quality of that album and today that band is gone. So where would that leave Battle Beast then? Well, they hired keyboarder Janne Björkroth’s brother Joona and went to work. The song writing on this album is credited to the whole band and to be honest, it was impossible to foresee just what this album would sound like and if the quality of the songs would even come close to its predecessor. Would Battle Beast be another Evanescence? I was really eager to find out.
Opener “Straight To The Heart” tells us that they haven’t lost anything at all in the song writing department. The tune is an upbeat pop song in a heavy metal disguise. It’s hard and aggressive, yet poppy and catchy as hell – a real powerhouse! The title track follows with all guns blazing Think Judas Priest meets Accept with a female voice and you’re pretty close – very good! First single “King For A Day” comes off as an amalgamation of any random radio hit from the pop charts in the mid 80’s, ABBA and a big chunk of metal right in there. The synth sounds are so retro 80’s that it feels like I’m put in a time machine but it works splendidly. The song is catchier than wall paper glue and an obvious single choice – great song! The sky-high catchiness of “Beyond The Burning Skies” makes it a cross over of Eurovision Song Contest pop and heavy metal – kind of like a more pop version of modern-day Nightwish. The tune also comes with a striking beat which will probably make it go down brilliantly on stage – really good. The single “Familiar Hell” is also a natural single choice. It’s total 80’s – think Desmond Child writing a tune with a closet metal fan pop artist in 1986-1989. I’m floored by this because I’m such a pop sucker at times. Hit alert de luxe!
“Lost In Wars” is heavy, somewhat symphonic tune with Celtic influences. It’s dark and serious, but still with a very memorable refrain. The song, that features Amorphis singer Tomi Joutsen, reminds me a bit of Swedish metal act Pain. It’s not the strongest track on the album – it’s good without being remarkable in any way. “Bastard Son Of Odin” is a sing-along-ish pop metal stomper with a galloping rhythm and a chorus so sticky it’s impossible to get out of the skull once it’s there. I’m guessing we have a future single here – awesome! “We Will Fight” is a melodic yet heavy mid-paced blaster where the repetitive “we will fight” refrain strikes hard and nails itself to the brain. It’s a good song, but it doesn’t shake my world. “Dancing With The Beast” might have a very metal title but this tune comes with shitloads of electronica and is a total 80’s pop / disco shaker. It’s like Stock, Aitken & Waterman added some distorted metal guitars on one of their songs. It’s a sore thumb for sure and even though Battle Beast have gone out on limbs almost like this before, this one comes right out of the blue. It’s not bad, but it’s not really my case of beer either. The closing track “Far From Heaven” is a full-on ballad. It’s big and quite pompous with an amazing vocal performance from Noora Louihimo. It’s a good song but the pure passion and soul in the vocals makes the song great!
Of course, there are bonus tracks to be digested on some editions and they have to be analyzed to see if they are worth the extra green. “God Of War” is a big metal stomper, quite memorable and an ok song, but it makes me think of Sabaton and in my book, that is never a good thing. But still, the refrain is still very catchy. “The Eclipse” is a pretty heavy metal track but it still contains shitloads of blipping synthesizers and a rhythm that creates an 80’s pop / disco rhythm. Still, Battle Beast has h tendency to marry the two quite well and that’s what they do on this tune – yes, I really like this one. They mix heavy metal with late 80’s sleaze rock on “Rock Trash” and to be honest, it doesn’t sound like Battle Beast one bit. My guess is that this tune was written and recorded just for a laugh, to do something different. It’s a real mold-breaker, that’s for sure. It’s not really a great song, but it’s fun.
It’s quite easy to state that Battle Beast manages just fine without their former main song writer and I actually like this album better than the previous one. The band’s love for 80’s pop anthems shines through just as much as their love for metal and the honesty and Devil may care attitude makes it work like a charm. As song writers, these guys and chick has an almost unreal ability to come up with catchy melody lines, hooks and choruses that sticks no matter if you like them or not – and for some reason I’m clueless of, it’s almost never cheesy or ridiculous, only positive and smile-bringing. I’m sure lots of people will love to hate this record and some will hate to love it and its musical direction, but I think even more people will be reached by it. In my book, this is their finest moment to date!
Other Battle Beast reviews:
1. Straight To The Heart
2. Bringer Of Pain
3. King For A Day
4. Beyond The Burning Skies
5. Familiar Hell
6. Lost In Wars (feat. Tomi Joutsen)
7. Bastard Son Of Odin
8. We Will Fight
9. Dancing With The Beast
10. Far From Heaven
11. God Of War (bonus track)
12. The Eclipse (bonus track)
13. Rock Trash (bonus track)