Battle Beast – Bringer of Pain review

Label: Nuclear Blast 

Released: February 17th, 2017

Genre: Melodic Power Metal 

BATTLE BEAST is:
Noora Louhimo, | vocals,
Joona Björkroth, | guitars,
Juuso Soinio, | guitars,
Eero Sipilä, | bass
Janne Björkroth, | keyboards,
Pyry Vikki, | drums,

TRACKLIST:

DIGI / CD
01. Straight To The Heart
02. Bringer Of Pain
03. King For A Day
04. Beyond The Burning Skies
05. Familiar Hell
06. Lost In Wars
07. Bastard Son Of Odin
08. We Will Fight
09. Dancing With The Beast
10. Far From Heaven
Bonus (DIGI only)
11. God Of War
12. The Eclipse
13. Rock Trash

Having topped the Finnish album chart on releasing third album Unholy Saviour, with a supporting tour for Sabaton also increasing their brand and profile, things were on the up for Battle Beast.

Shortly thereafter though,  the band parted ways with founding member Anton Kabanen with both parties citing musical disagreements and other unsolvable issues within the band. Nervousness from fans, knowing that Anton who had quite an influence on the style and music of the band had gone, was rife. So with this, album four, the band has something to say and prove to show that the ship is steady and things continue moving in the right direction. 

Opening track, ‘Straight to the Heart’ has an lead guitar and keyboard riff straight out of the Top Gun soundtrack before Noora Louhimo’s powerful brings us back from visions of Maverick flying on his ‘Mighty Wings’. As the song progresses, all of the core components that make a Battle Beast release so essential appear, the roaring vocals, the epic solos, the quirky keyboard licks, thunderous drumming and chant along-a-chorus moments. They ensure the song remains long after the headphones are put away. The same components continue throughout the title track with Noora’s face melting vocals harking back to the style she introduced on previous releases. 

Lead single ‘King for a Day follows with yet more keyboard fills that remind us that the 80s are now retro and nostalgic as opposed to something to be avoided. The guitar licks mirror Slash’s work on Jacko’s ‘Black and White’ and the bridge to the chorus is pure ABBA bringing to mind the best of the Swedes and their hit, ‘Voulez Vous’. If it sounds a jumble of styles and content, fear not as the song is an absolute belter and no one, and it should be re-iterated, no one has the sort of chops that Noora brings to the table and she really is the secret weapon in Battle Beast’s arsenal. 

Three songs in and the energy and riffs continue on with ‘Beyond the Burning Skies’ before pausing and letting Noora prove that she can dial it down when needs be and that not all tracks need to be 150mph epics. If anything, this presents a band that can match Nightwish, circa Annette Olzon and ‘Imaginaerum’. It also presents the first shift in style for the band and shows a different vision of where they might go next and may in fact be one of the reasons they parted ways with Kabanen. 

With that ‘Imaginaerum’ feel continuing with ‘Familiar Hell’ and ‘Lost In Wars’ it falls to ‘Bastard Son Of Odin’ to throw in another 80s curve ball thanks to the smile inducing keyboard work from Janne Björkroth. The smile he brings to the listener is a mix of nostalgia and also sheer enjoyment. It’s impossible not to find a foot, head or fist moving in time to the music. Catchy would be an understatement.

Of course a band like Battle Beast cannot release an album without epic tales of war and ‘We Will Fight’ sates the appetite for some blood thirsty lyrics. Another chorus that, once heard, will never leave and a powerful yet measured vocal performance from Noora make this one of the outstanding tracks on the album.

With ‘Dancing With The Beast’ feeling like it would have a place on any album by the Pet Shop Boys, there is another sense that underneath the rock and power metal there is a fabulous Finnish pop band also trying to break out. The approach has never done Alestorm any harm who openly admit that they write pop songs and then add the metal finish to it. Maybe Noora is set to become the Madonna of the metal world? Who knows…

Closing with ‘Far From Heaven’, an epic ballad is an usual choice. Typically you’d expect to hear something like this mid album and close on a track like ‘Bastard Son Of Odin’. Maybe the sense was that the audience, being on such a metal high from the previous nine tracks, needed to be slowly released back into realty. Either way, it’s an amazingly powerful song with another top vocal performance from Noora. 

Overall, this album feels a little cleaner, more polished and less dangerous than previous albums. Whilst is doesn’t make the album weaker, there are some stunning tracks, previous Battle Beast releases left the listener with a sense of unease, a desire to ‘not’ bump into Noora in a dark alleyway at night….

The Bringer of Pain just brought Netflix and Chill instead… which of course is still a great night to be had!

Review by Adrian Hextall

SCORE: 8/10 

battle-beast Battle Beast - Bringer of Pain review

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