Battleroar – Blood of Legends (Cruz Del Sur Music)Thursday, 10th April 2014
Right away, the listener is dropped into a lush and fantastical piece, “Stormgiven,” of acoustic guitar, violin, and epically mournful atmosphere. If this is forecasts what is to come, a listener with a penchant for things glorious and fantastical is in for a treat (and it does, for the most part). This stellar opening instrumental leads us into the first track, where the battle begins with the ever-so-metal title “The Swords are Drawn.” Bursting open with good fist-pumping riffing and the double-kick rhythms of standard mid-tempo power/epic heavy metal, we crash into themes of warriors, crowns, and blood. Obviously, these are the kinds of themes that comprise Blood of Legends, no surprises there.
Where Battleroar really shine is in their use of the supporting instrumentation for the dramatic flavor. The violin and acoustic guitar that frequently permeate, set tones that take the listener away to a storybook tale of legend (but not in a Rhapsody of Fire kind of way…more battles, less dragons). This six-piece band from Athens, Greece features a violinist (!) and vocalist Gerrit Mutz of Germany’s Sacred Steel, who makes his vocal debut with Battleroar. A seasoned and talented singer, no doubt, his vocal tone has a quality to it that may not be for everyone. Perhaps in the way that Rush’s Geddy Lee is a divisive figure, although Gerrit has a deeper singing voice, there is a thin quality here that is distinct and might leave a bit more robust voice to be desired for this style of epic heavy metal.
There is plenty to like on this album of lore and tales of glory, thematically (if that is your cup of tea) and musically as well, with well-performed, good sounding songs and some captivating atmosphere. Where this album falls a little short is that it doesn’t command the listener and really sink the hooks in. Perhaps lacking adequate vocal texturing and substantial guitar heroics, this wants to be so epic, almost succeeds, but lacks real power. But hey, that’s just one guy’s opinion. Give a listen to album highlights “Valkyries Above Us” and “Exile Eternal” and hear for yourself – there is some quite good stuff on Blood of Legends. True heavy metal has a champion in Battleroar.