I checked out BATTLE BEAST in 2012 on the recommendation of a friend. I purchased the debut Steel and while musically it was good, the vocals kind of got on my nerves to be honest. Fast forward to now, and I just received a promo of the new self-titled BATTLE BEAST album, out February 4 via Nuclear Blast Records. My first thought was, “Oh man, I gave these guys a shot once already. Maybe I’ll skip it.” Then I find out that original lead singer Nitte Valo is gone. Armed with that information I decided to try again because, like I said, she was the only thing that held me back before. Enter Noora Louhimo whose voice can go from buzzsaw sharp to downright seductive in the blink of an eye, and each one is equally captivating. OK. You’ve got my attention, people.
The opening keys of “Let It Roar” might have you fooled into thinking this band has gone all symphonic metal on you for a second before Noora rips off the chorus to “Let It Rooooooooooooar!!” and your heart skips a beat. Man alive, this woman has chops and can fuck shit up quick two-time! Add to that the twin guitars of Juuso Soinio and Anton Kabanen who are hell bent on destroying everything in a three-mile radius and you quickly realize that you are in for one hell of a ride. On “Out of Control” Noora opts for a more sultry and lilting vocal on the verses before going full bore on the refrains. It’s almost impossible not to be mesmerized by the potent combo of her voice and Janne Björkroth’s keyboard arrangements.
One thing that separates BATTLE BEAST from other Power Metal acts is that their subject matter is more sci-fi than anything else. You’ll find no tales of medieval swords and sorcery here. Hell, look at the cover art and you can see that. Not to mention the electro-rhythms and robotic voices on “Neuromancer” and “Machine Revolution”. Not surprisingly these were two of my favorites. Pure, balls-out metal aggression and hammering drums and bass provided by Pyry Vikki and Eero Sipilä respectively are the driving force behind “Raven”. These two are like hand in glove on every single track, and when they adopt a simpler approach to the mid-tempo “Into the Heart of Danger” it suits the song perfectly. I can’t believe I never noticed just how good this band was before.
One thing pretty much all the songs have in common is that they are all heavy metal ANTHEMS. If you can listen to “Kingdom” and not pump your fists, air guitar, or just be amazed by both the guitar AND keys solo, then something must be wrong with you. “Over the Top” is another favorite, reminding me of a cross between JUDAS PRIEST, ACCEPT, and THE SCORPIONS, Noora’s screams serving only to put a smile on my face. And on “Fight Kill Die” the fucking solos also go right for the jugular. Right after this the stalking menace of “Black Ninja” and brutalizing closer “Rain Man” show the band gearing up for one final assault on your senses, and as you lay there recovering, I swear you’ll be singing the hook to this one long into the night. The keyboard solo at the end only serves to dot the final “I” and cross the last “T” on an album that is one hell of a ride from start to finish. Yep. Safe to say I’m a pretty big BATTLE BEAST fan now.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Neuromancer”, “Machine Revolution”, “Let It Roar”, “Over the Top”, “Rain Man”, “Fight Kill Die”