Battlecross – Rise to Power (Metal Blade)Sunday, 2nd August 2015
Michigan’s Battlecross have been one of the fortunate new modern melodic thrash/death oriented bands in metal over the last 5 years to breakthrough on a reasonably decent scale due to their street level band philosophy and genuine work ethics. Adapting a touring blitzkrieg mentality has allowed them to perform at clubs, theaters, and festivals worldwide – penetrating the marketplace through their previous two albums Pursuit of Honor and War of Will. Once you’ve established your skills in metal, sustaining your following while still delivering new material becomes the tightrope act to balance, which brings us to this year’s Rise to Power.
Using Audiohammer Studios again in Florida for the recording, drummer Alex Bent joins Battlecross for the first time – and his natural speed and power plus knack for when to bring forth drum corps, slam groove, and blast beat maneuvers make “Not Your Slave” and “Shackles” rhythmic monsters. Guitarists Hiran Deraniyagala and Tony Asta have their preferences stylistically – the former more death-tinged which works for “The Climb” and “Bound by Fear” while the latter loads up on the melody/harmony angle for the Maiden-like work during “Scars” or the early Metallica meets Annihilator-like “Spoiled”.
Acoustic guitar tinges appear in a couple of tracks to offer a classical touch and provide breathing room for the next electric assault – while bassist Don Slater pounds out his low end duties almost as if fighting for his life (check out “Blood & Lies” or the jackhammer-oriented “Not Your Slave”). Meanwhile the roar and screaming parade from Kyle Gunther keeps Battlecross’ appeal decidedly more underground, as his words tackle the parent/ touring see-saw juggling act for “Absence” (‘I can’t hear the pain/in all the words you say’) or looking at self-imposed life mistakes in “Despised.”
Overall Rise to Power gives Battlecross more of what they’ve come to know and love – pushed to the max. Tasteful, melodic lead breaks, aggressive riffs and hooks, differentiation in terms of the thrash/death attack – all in a tidy 35 minute package. Confidence allows the band comfort to explore what they do best – and the blue collar machine should roll through the heads and hearts of numerous metalheads across the globe, ascending to marque headlining status.