When it comes to BATTLE BEAST albums, one of two things always happens. They either grab me by the throat from the very first listen, or they take me a couple of listens to finally “get it,” so to speak. For example, the 2013 self-titled disc and 2017’s Bringer of Pain were instant home runs for me, whereas Unholy Savior took more than my usual three spins to make any kind of impact. And that’s not to say the songs are bad, just took longer to click. The same can be said of newest effort No More Hollywood Endings (out now, Nuclear Blast Records). I got through it once and was like, “I dunno…something feels off.” Not sure if it was the melodies or hooks this time around; I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. So I kept listening…
The first two tracks “Unbroken” and “No More Hollywood Endings” are undeniably BATTLE BEAST, even though they aren’t exactly favorites on the record for this guy here. Now, “Eden,” that’s another story. This is what I was looking for, and Joona Björkroth’s guitar solo is fiery as all get out, complemented by powerhouse singer Noora Louhimo’s vocals and Janne Björkroth’s keyboards. The great hooks keep comin’ with “Unfairy Tales” packing a decidedly 80’s punch, followed by “Endless Summer”, which also sounds like it would be from that decade of decadence. Each BATTLE BEAST album has what I like to call the “ROXETTE track”, because you can clearly hear that influence, which I love, and this one is no exception. A winner for sure!
The keys are front and center for “The Hero” though the guitar riffs manage to keep it somewhat heavy. Still, this one wasn’t exactly thrilling. On the other hand “Piece of Me” brings that goddamn heavy in spades! Not surprisingly this one was/is another instant favorite, and I find myself abusing the REPEAT button. Here’s hoping they play it on their upcoming U.S. tour. With an intro eerily reminiscent of QUEEN’S “The Show Must Go On,” we approach the ballad of the album with “I Wish.” Featuring a lush orchestral arrangement, the song hits the mark in all the right places. The harder anthems return in the form of six minute and change “Raise Your Fists” and galloping number “The Golden Horde,” the latter being another strong cut.
One thing this band does very well is end their records in fine fashion, and official closer “World On Fire” keeps that tradition going strong. I say official because there are two bonus tracks to be heard, people. “Bent and Broken” is another ballad, and it’s gorgeous, Louhimo simply owning this song, while “My Last Dream” is a rollicking guitar-driven number that flips tables and breaks barstools over people’s heads. Quite frankly these two are outstanding and should be on all versions of the record. All told BATTLE BEAST come in and deliver a great record with No More Hollywood Endings, and while a couple tunes didn’t do it for me, when all is said and done, the majority of them certainly did. Be sure to pick up the bonus track version today!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Eden”, “Endless Summer”, “Piece of Me”, “World On Fire”, “Bent and Broken”, “My Last Dream”