Battle Beast – Bringer of Pain (Nuclear Blast)Monday, 30th January 2017
When a band loses their main songwriter, often it’s sink or swim time. While some cannot reach their former heights, others make lemonade out of lemons and come out stronger. When Battle Beast lost Anton Kabanen after the release of Unholy Savior, they pulled in Joona Björkroth and got to work on a full-band collaboration for their fourth release. The result should satisfy any previous fans and garner the band some new followers.
What makes Bringer of Pain strongest is that the band fully embraces the assets that set them apart and blow them up effectively. The big ‘80s synths that always served as a strong point with previous releases (see “Touch in the Night”) truly soar on tracks like the bouncy “Dancing with the Beast” (which goes so far to include a rousing solo) and anthemic “Beyond the Burning Skies.” It’s fun, and they pull it off without making the end result too cheesy in nature. Hooks galore as well, with a combination of metal aggression and pop sensibility encompassing tracks like “Familiar Hell” and “We Will Fight” on the melodic end, whereas the Judas Priest-esque title track ups the intensity into fist-pumping fury, coupling nicely with the more epic “Lost in Wars,” which has guest vocals by Amorphis’ Tomi Joutsen. The final weapon of Battle Beast is vocalist Noora Louhimo, with a range that can handle everything from the heavier (“Straight to the Heart”) to the poppier (“Bastard Son of Odin”) with equal aplomb, even pulling off the closing ballad, “Far from Heaven,” with genuine emotion and strength.
If there’s one take-home from Bringer of Pain, it’s the sheer fun factor involved. It’s an album that’s virtually impossible to sit still to while listening – the choruses will get you shouting and the riffs will keep your head and feet moving as you go through each track. Cherry-picking the best elements of the ‘80s in both metallic and pop form, Battle Beast have penned their finest album to date, ensuring just the right combination of catchy melodies with a metallic crunch.