Released by: Scarlet Records
Release Date: January 12th, 2015
Genre: Heavy/True/Power/Speed Metal
Links: Battle Beast Official
Noora Louhimo – vocals
Anton Kabanen – guitar, vocals
Eero Sipilä – bass, vocals
Pyry Vikki – drums
Juuso Soinio – guitar
Janne Björkroth – keyboards
2. Unholy Saviour
3. I Want the World… And Everything in It
5. Sea of Dreams
6. Speed and Danger
7. Touch in the Night
8. The Black Swordsman
9. Hero’s Quest
10. Far Far Away
11. Angel Cry
12. Push It to the Limit (Bonus track on certain formats)
Following on from sophomore release “Battle Beast” which was released back in May 2013, the first album to include vocalist Noora Louhimo, the Finns now return with ‘Unholy Saviour’. Having spent the last year playing some of the biggest festivals in 2014 (among them Loud Park in Japan, German Metalfest and Sabaton Open Air in Falun, Sweden), plus supporting their German labelmates Accept during their Finland tour in September, the band now have the chance to return with an album that sees them pushing the envelope again and improving once more on what they do best. What has changed, is the lyrical content brought on by the deep personal and emotional issues that main song writer Anton Kabanen was going through at the time. Describing the content as reeking of death, agony, pain, hate, confusion, fear and insecurity, Anton also confirms that it also includes comment around deep gratitude, longing, consolation and love.
A recent quote from Anton reads; “The album had to be done this way – through emotional hell. Having transferred these “things” and emotions into songs I feel that I’m ready to move on.” He also adds “But like always, I wrote songs about the series “Berserk”, as well, and the reason behind writing songs about that particular series is that I can strongly relate to that, especially to certain characters and to their way of thinking and feeling.”
Does that mean therefore that the tracks will drag the listener down into layers of despair as they listen to the album? No….. not at all! Opening with ‘Lionheart’ all of the expected elements of a classic Battle Beast release are there. Galloping drums, wailing guitars, keyboard embellishments, sublime vocals from Noora and chant along choral work leave the listener in no doubt that the band have pushed all of the right buttons and delivered in spades.
Keyboard and sound effects start the title track of the album and help paint the picture from the album cover before it all strips back to acoustic guitars and softer vocals from Noora. Of course being Battle Beast, the stripped back format cannot last for long and sure enough, as the electric guitars, bass and drums kick in, Noora pushes her voice to the top end of her range and then some more to deliver a chorus that could shatter glass when played on 11. Again the harmonies from the rest of the band on the chorus just add another layer to the overall sound.
This time around, the band seems to have settled on three distinct styles of delivery. There are ballsy rock tracks such as ‘I Want The World… And Everything In It’ and epic anthems like lead video single ‘Madness’ with its machine gun drumming from Pyry Vikki, multi layered harmonies and majestic keyboard flourishes from Janne Björkroth. Then, finally, when it all becomes too energised and epic, they pull out ballads that stand shoulder to shoulder with the best that Nightwish or Within Temptation can produce. ‘Sea of Dreams’ is one such track, Noora’s vocal delivery is the softest and most captivating that we have ever heard her deliver. It takes a couple of listens to truly appreciate that this is indeed the same singer who, in one breath, is able to strip paint from the walls with the power of her voice, yet in another she brings calm and serenity to all around her. For those concerned that Battle Beast have gone soft on this release, don’t panic! The second half of ‘Sea of Dreams’ contains enough energy and helium fuelled vocals to keep everyone happy. The immediate follow up track ‘Speed and Danger’ contains, well, speed and danger in plentiful amounts, delivering a great driving track that will see that right foot pushing pedal to metal and the in car audio turned up full.
‘Touch In The Night’ takes an interesting twist as the keyboard and electronic drum kit intro brings to mind the best of electronica from the mid 1980s. Tremendously catchy, the song does hold that 80s era vibe all of the way through with even the lyrical content, drum beat and soloing feeling like a perfect fit anything Lee Aaron, Lita Ford or Phantom Blue might have put out at the time.
Returning back to their more ‘expected’ approach (there is after all nothing wrong with the odd curve ball to maintain the listeners attention), ‘Hero’s Quest’ allows the listener to settle back into a mere 2 minutes and 32 seconds of great power metal.
The 11 track standard release finishes with ‘Angel Cry’ which again highlights the power and versatility of Noora’s voice and reaffirms that bringing her into the band was exactly the right thing to do.
This month (January 2015), Battle Beast will return to the European roads with Sabaton and Delain, a three band bill to die for. Sabaton of course have supported Battle Beast from the off and even included a cover of ‘Out Of Control‘ as a bonus track on their current album Heroes. Miss the tour at your peril.
Written by Adrian
Ratings Adrian 9/10