So here I am, all alone with the newest BATTLE BEAST album, Unholy Savior (January 13, Nuclear Blast Records) and I have mixed emotions. There are certain things I really like about it, and a couple of things I surely could have done without, but the real telling factor is that there’s nothing I’m head-over-heels-gaga-in-love with, and that’s what’s bothering me. Last year, when I got the self-titled record I couldn’t stop playing it for a week straight. Song after song I felt this call to arms that is somewhat missing on this release. And that’s not to say it doesn’t have its moments because it surely does. Vocalist Noora Louhimo once again does a brilliant job on going from seductive to “I’ll kill you” in her delivery, and there is some ripping guitar work from Juuso Soinio and Anton Kabanen, particularly on the title track. But I dunno, something’s missing this time around.
Opener “Lionheart” is certainly anthemic enough to start the record, and as I said “Unholy Savior” has some fierce guitar on it, so much so that it’s also an album favorite. “I Want the World…And Everything in It” has balls of steel and is without a doubt THE best song on this disc. The perfect blend of heavy and melodic, this is an example of BATTLE BEAST at their best. Single and video “Madness” is another song that shows just how great this band can be at times, keyboardist Janne Björkroth complementing the shredding guitars perfectly, as opposed to other places on the album where he’s a bit overpowering. Plus, the drums and bass provided by Pyry Vikki and Eero Sipilä respectively really get all up in your chest and pound away.
And then…well then the wheels come off for exactly 5:01. I have no idea what the hell the impetus was behind ballad “Sea of Dreams” because it is dead boring despite being pretty in spots. NEXT!! “Speed and Danger” shows some more piss and vinegar, but the chorus is downright silly. And now we come to the song that many of you would expect me to rip to shreds, but those of you that know my history also know how much I LOVE 80’s synth pop-laden tunes! “Touch In the Night” sounds at times like ROXETTE, another band I love, as well as a myriad of songs that were popular in ’86-’87, making this a true album standout, Louhimo finding the right mix of painful longing to make this one work.
Instrumental “Hero’s Quest” suffers from extreme keyboard overload before we come back to rockin’ territory with “Far Far Away”. I swear, the band is so much better when they just go for it and knock the walls down, like they do here. Closing things out is another slow number “Angel Cry” which sounds like something we hear over the credits of a Highlander film, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Overall there is a lot to like on Unholy Savior, but it’s nowhere near as good as their last effort. Still, if they tour the States you can bet I’ll be there. Something tells me BATTLE BEAST is fun live.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “I Want the World…And Everything in It”, “Unholy Savior”, “Touch In the Night”, “Madness”, “Far Far Away”