Battlesword – Towards the Unknown (MDD Records)Friday, 16th September 2022
A slow, steady output of releases seems to be the work philosophy for German quintet Battlesword. Active since 1999, they’ve put forth a mix of three full-lengths, one demo and a maxi-single, arriving at this fourth album with Towards the Unknown. These musicians intertwine a mix of melodic death and Scandinavian old school principals- spitting out seven originals as well as tacking on The 13th Black Crusade maxi-single in remastered form as a three-song bonus to fill out the track list.
What’s immediately apparent throughout the record is the band’s solid adherence to strong, catchy guitar lines plus proper rhythm section support to elevate key hooks on first listen to capture your headspace through subsequent playbacks. Most will be hard pressed to not perform hair windmills headbanging to the guitar melodies and steady mid-tempo groove for “Terra Combusta”, the additional semi-blasts in spurts adding that dynamic energy burst to heighten the next crushing passage. Amidst the expected Entombed/Dismember meets older In Flames/Dark Tranquillity aspects to the material, there’s a decidedly throwback, old school nature to many songs that revel in Black Sabbath or Iron Maiden measures – especially evident in the main twin rhythm/harmony parts to “The Shores Of I” that many Amon Amarth followers live for. Veteran Dan Swanö handled the mastering of the entire record – bringing vitality to the 2022 remastering of tracks like “Fire and Storm” and “There Will Be Blood” that are over fourteen years old. A difference maker to the plus side is the vicious, diverse multi-pronged deadly approach vocalist Axel takes throughout Towards the Unknown. He has this fierce, lower growl plus savage screaming ability to send chills through the frosty air – his measured, matching word rhythm nature to the verses and chorus for “The Awakening” an instant standout.
Considering the revival of old school death metal, Battlesword could benefit from this resurgence. Continually charging ahead to march to their own creative muse, Towards the Unknown is another solid record that most who love Scandinavian-styled death that contains melodic death atmosphere will devour.