February 15, 2017 Battle Beast – Bringer of Pain (Album Review)
Bringer of Pain, just the title summons thoughts of classic Heavy Metal, headbanging, and tossing up your Metal horns. When Finland’s Battle Beast bring the Metal, you believe, and hitting airwaves February 17th via Nuclear Blast Records, their latest album will excite Metalheads internationally.
Those who do not already know, Battle Beast are a Heavy Metal band out of Helsinki, Finland established back in 2008. Two years later, in 2010, the band would go on to win the international Wacken Metal Battle, leading to a performance at the famed Wacken Open Air festival. Additionally, the band won Radio Rock Starba, a competition held by major Finnish Rock station, Radio Rock. The culmination of their achievements would lead to a 2010 record deal with the Finnish label Hype Records.
Releasing their debut album, Steel, in 2011, it peaked at No. 7 on the Finnish albums chart, thus, Nuclear Blast would re-release the album – with an added bonus track – to the entire European market in January 2012. Riding high on success, unfortunately the band would take a hit several months later in autumn of 2012 with the departure of original Vocalist Nitte Valo. Fortunately, it was not long before they found a new leading lady: Noora Louhimo from Tampere, Finland. With the band line-up once again cemented, Battle Beast immediately took to the studio to record their eponymous second album. Simply entitled Battle Beast, it peaked at No. 5 and remained on the Finnish charts for 17 weeks, taking Battle Beast to new heights.
The band’s third album, Unholy Savior, hit No. 1 on the Finnish album charts in 2015. Yet again, complications would arise alongside success: Guitarist and main Songwriter Anton Kabanen would depart the band, citing irreconcilable differences. Battle Beast were lucky to discover Ossi Maristo and Keyboardist Janne Björkroth’s brother, Joona, to re-cement their line-up. Going on to tour with the likes of Nightwish, Sonata Arctica, Delain, Powerwolf, U.D.O., Sabaton, Leaves’ Eyes, and many more, Battle Beast proved they could overcome whatever obstacle was thrown their way.
A European Metal band to their iron core, Battle Beast now return with their fourth album, the aforementioned Bringer of Pain. “The title is more than just a catchy punchline,” Bassist Eero Sipilä explains. “’Bring the pain’ as a phrase means ‘giving your best,’ stepping up against the odds – something that really sums up the spirit of this band and this album. The fact that the name also brought to mind a certain Judas Priest album definitely didn’t hurt either…”
Produced by Keyboardist Janne Björkroth, the ten-track album is equal parts classic ’80s Metal blended with modern Rock sensibilities. The end result is an album that starts out very strong but ultimately wavers, musically speaking. As for that cover art, anyone else see Cheetara from Thundercats as a Metal vixen?
Bringer of Pain kicks-off with a bang, “Straight To The Heart” is dressed with a guitar solo straight out of 1989. There is a defined classic Hard Rock sound at work here as Louhimo’s vocals soar with her proclaiming, “I’m out for you and I never miss my mark.” The song is sexy, old-school, and fun; a perfect combination of then-and-now. The band quickly follows this with the frenetic speed of album namesake, “Bringer of Pain.”
Then there is “King For A Day,” which has Louhimo flying high above the band, stealing the limelight, while “Familiar Hell” is sonically catchy, but lyrically cliché. “Is familiar hell better than an unknown heaven?” Battle Beast inquire in this track that is less gritty, slightly more commercial but still Metal. In fact, in some of their best moments throughout Bringer of Pain, the band sound something like a Shout at the Devil-era Mötley Crüe with a female Sebastian Bach (former vocalist of Skid Row) on vocals; think aerial vocals worthy of Broadway but with enough grit to make Iron Maiden take notice.
In a recent interview with CrypticRock.com, Louhimo stated that the recording of this album was ” . . . really a great experience overall. Even though we had our ups and downs of course, because you had to give birth to the songs and album. It is never easy, I believe anything that comes easy is not the best it can be. Actually, when the songs were written, some can give birth easily, while others a little more work.”
That in mind, it is around the halfway mark that the downs seem to clearly materialize and slow the headbanging pace to a trickle. The political “Lost In Wars” (“We are made of stars but we are lost in wars”) is catchy and well-performed, but it marks a general decline in the quality of material present here. “Bastard Son of Odin” is entertaining, but it really amounts to nothing more than a soundtrack for your next Vikings viewing party, while one really must wonder what Battle Beast were thinking when they recorded “Dancing With the Beast.” This particular track is more Debbie Gibson than Mötley Crüe. Strangely, they choose to end with the terribly banal ballad “Far From Heaven.” “There was never you and me, there was only me,” Louhimo sings in this vapid relationship song. On that note, it ends.
Bringer of Pain literally puts its best feet – or songs – forward and devolves from there. Which is not to say that there is no great material here, there is; rather it is clear that collaborative songwriting efforts of all Battle Beast members is only starting to jell together. An album that is solid from a talented band with an amazing vocalist, Bringer of Pain is the start of a new era for Battle Beast as they are set to embark on their first ever North American tour. For the amazing vocal theatrics of Noora Louhimo and their homage to a far more fun time in Heavy Metal music, CrypticRock gives Battle Beast’s Bringer of Pain 3.5 of 5 stars.