Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Album Review: Battle Beast - Bringer Of Pain

The worlds of traditional and power metal have branched off into two categories. You have the one group that is still writing music in the old Helloween mold, with speedy chugging and soaring vocals. You have the other group that is writing chunky, modern melodeath inspired songs with deeper and sadder vocals. Then, in the middle, you have a few bands that want to take us back to the good ol' days, when music was as cheesy as it was heavy, when bands could be menacing and fun at the same time. Modern audiences might not get it, but those of us just old enough to remember when a poorly sketched cartoon on an album cover was enough to start Congressional hearings will have a wry smile knowing that spirit hasn't been completely forgotten.

Battle Beast, with this newest album, is putting their tongue firmly in cheek, creating a metal album that embraces the cheesier aspects of the 80s, and updating it with a modern crunch. If you take metal seriously, you might want to walk away. But if you have a sense of humor, let's talk.

"Straight To The Heart" gets... forgive the pun, straight to the heart of the album's attitude. With big, cheesy synth pulses mixed in with the riffs, there's a pervasive air of fun to the album right away that tells you it's going to be a fun ride. And when they get to the chorus and Noora Louhimo's raspy voice tears through the hook, it becomes one of those perfect nuggets of nostalgia for people like me, who lament the fact that heavy metal has become so obsessed with being miserable. Battle Beast is here to kick ass and have fun, which are indeed two things that can be done at the same time.

You may have heard the single already, "Familiar Hell". Dear lord, it is about as perfect a cheesy, pop metal song as you can write. The hook is better than almost anything Taylor Swift has written, and there are more than passing resemblances to Bonnie Tyler in Noora's vocals. Considering that Bonnie gained her fame singing songs by the master of overblown cheese, Jim Steinman, that makes Noora a perfect fit for what Battle Beast is doing here. Maybe I'm a sucker, but it will be one of the best songs of the year. I'm sure of it.

If the whole album was that riotously catchy, I'd spend another three paragraphs rambling on about how often I hit the replay button. The rest of the album, as expected, doesn't measure up to those fantastic tracks. There are attempts at being heavier, like "Lost In Wars", that are enjoyable in their own way, but just don't have quite the the same panache.

But let's not lose sight of the main point. Battle Beast has made a heavy metal album that is fun, and that's something in rare supply. Sure, there's a song or two that is a bit flat, but the overall presentation here is one well worth hearing, if you're a fan of the old days when metal fans were goofballs, and not into self-harm. Sure, "Bringer Of Pain" is cheesy, but that's what makes it endearing. If you can handle that, Battle Beast is well worth your time.

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