BATTLE BEAST are back, ladies and gentlemen! As some of you who actually read this silly little website may know I liked but didn’t love the last album, 2015’s Unholy Savior. There were some killer tunes on it but there were also some that just lacked…something, not sure what it was, especially on the heels of that phenomenal self-titled album. Ah well, none of that matters right now because, as I said, the BEAST is back, and in a big way! New album Bringer of Pain comes out February 17 via Nuclear Blast Records and with this one the band really found the way to capture all the best elements of their heavy and lighter sides, sometimes all within the same song.
A perfect example of this is “Beyond the Burning Skies.” The guitars drive the song, but on certain parts, like the intro, first verse and the break, it’s definitely a vehicle for Janne Björkroth’s keyboards. He also produced the record, and the sound is so full and rich. “Familiar Hell” opens up this monster riff from new guitarist (and Janne’s brother) Joona Björkroth that really makes the track take flight, and opener “Straight to the Heart” is all ass-kicking, all the time. This would make for one hell of a show opener on the band’s upcoming tour with SABATON, just a suggestion, folks. Noora Louhimo’s vocals are simply on another level here, and the solo is fluid and melodic before we dive back in for that chorus.
Title track “Bringer of Pain” is a heavy, JUDAS PRIEST-like speed demon bent on setting entire city blocks ablaze, while “King For a Day” is a rock song you can dance to, almost like a heavier ROXETTE. The hook is massive on this one and should have you singing along in no time. A piano intro gets “Lost In Wars” started and leads you to believe we’re getting into ballad territory but that is not the case. The song still hits hard, but the tempo has just changed, that’s all. Plus, you have some sinister male spoken word parts that shows we are CLEARLY not in love song territory. That said, this would do very well as a single because it’s got a great hook.
“Bastard Son of Odin” is one of those tunes you just know is gonna kick some ass from the title alone. And once you press PLAY your gut feeling will only be confirmed. This one was arguably my favorite from jump. The sexy groove of “We Will Fight” goes hand-in-hand with the riffs, but also allows Janne’s keys to take centerstage on the verses and work in tandem on the choruses with the guitars. Plus, guitarist Juuso Soinio unleashes the best solo on the disc at the 2:24 mark, so there’s that. “Dancing With the Beast” is like a visit from the best parts of the 80’s: pop rock guitars and keys combined in a beautiful marriage officiated by Louhimo who gives an incredible performance here. This was another favorite right away.
The album concludes with a piano-driven ballad called “Far From Heaven” which showcases Louhimo’s considerable chops behind the mic in addition to being a well-written song. If what she did on “Beast” was good, then her singing on this one is beyond great. She’s a tremendous talent. All in all BATTLE BEAST deliver the goods and then some with Bringer of Pain. This record is a monster from start to finish and there’s not a bad track to be found. As I briefly mentioned earlier, the band will be on U.S. soil for the first time with SABATON starting here in Philly on April 20 and I will be there hopping up and down while screaming like a lunatic. Grab your copy when it comes out, you won’t be sorry!
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM