BattleroaR – Codex Epicus (Cruz Del Sur Music)Wednesday, 20th June 2018
Epic metal and their power/traditional/heavy offshoots have been a mainstay across Greece for decades – artists from Manowar and Omen to Iced Earth, Blind Guardian, and Manilla Road gaining stellar support whenever new records come out or performing on live stages. Veterans of the domestic scene, BattleroaR return for their fifth studio platter on Codex Epicus, debuting two new members and continuing to valiantly fly the flag for epic metal while proving its versatility as far as dynamics, mood, and atmosphere.
The band feel just as comfortable using electric instrumentation as they do acoustic and choir/keyboard elements to flesh out the ideas – the opening and closing acoustic strains for “The Doom of Medusa” even giving a nod to “God of Thunder”/Kiss, while the steady double kick/marching riff parade and equally invigorating vocal melody lines appear in classic Manowar methodology against some brooding Candlemass-oriented magnetic charm. Guitarists Kostas Tzortzis and Michael Kontogiorgis establish a foundation of driving mid-tempo guitar interplay, weaving in rejoiceful power chords against passages that warriors use as fuel for battle – “We Shall Conquer” and “Chronicles of Might” two of the best examples where the teamwork sets up pleasant results. Gerrit Mutz (best known for his singing in Sacred Steel) possesses the proper understanding and mechanics to handle all the varied doom, epic, power, and traditional aspects to the songwriting – commanding the aural landscape in a somber, lower register for “Palace of the Martyrs” as easily as changing up for a forceful, triumphant register on the already mentioned “We Shall Conquer”. Gaining a key guest appearance from Mark Shelton of Manilla Road on “Sword of the Flame” makes sense, his reflective/lower vocal melodies mirroring the tender acoustic/understated aspects of this 7:25 arrangement – a passing of the torch from one respected act to another. Horns of old signal another back half favorite “Enchanting Threnody”, the choir/keyboard aspects melding with a killer epic riff sequences that builds into a tremendous chorus built for unison audience sing-a-longs.
BattleroaR prove through Codex Epicus that this could be their best work to date – willing to take a few chances without overreaching that epic/power/doom metal foundation that they’ve established. Proof that even the veterans know that twists can work out if you put your heart and soul into your craft.