Album Review: Battle Beast – Unholy Savior

battlebeastunholycd2014It’s strange to think that a band formed in 2008 are no longer “new.” Indeed, Battle Beast have been going for seven years now, however it wasn’t until 2011 that their debut album was released. From there they’ve been on the rise, charting in various countries while being nominated for various awards. Their third and latest album, Unholy Savior, has just been released via Nuclear Blast/Warner Music which gives us the chance to review our first power metal album of the year (expect the word quest to be used several times).

Despite making me think of the old PC game I got free with Windows 95 that I could never figure out how to play, I’ve come to like Battle Beast (I genuinely didn’t like them at first purely because of flashbacks to that game). Therefore I was quite happy to hear they were among the early releases of the year.

seriously, how the fuck did you play this thing?

Looking at the titles alone checks off plenty of squares on the power metal bingo board –sword, hero, quest, battle, it’s nearly a House. Upon first inspection, the music follows suit. We have big choruses, powerful keyboard lines and the traditional classical inspired guitar solos (Speed and Danger).

Despite being the second track, Unholy Saviour is where the album truly kicks off in my eyes. The opening is suitably “questy” while the chorus is a solid chunk of power. It really presents the mission statement for what is to come over the course of the album. As a side note, with the word “questy” being thrown about, you really don’t have to look much further than Hero’s Quest. If it doesn’t make you picture someone riding a horse over plains then you need to listen to more Manowar.

Despite being firmly rooted in the power metal sphere, they’ve left themselves a lot of room in which to play. Touch in the Night is a good example of this where they almost remove themselves from the genre briefly. A sudden four minute long 80s style pop song is unexpected, but in this genre it still sort of works. No doubt it will annoy the “hardened” power metal fans on Youtube, but everything annoys them. Although, I don’t know if you really get these hardened hardcore fans in power metal, a genre that has songs about unicorns and dragons doesn’t really lend itself to macho comments.

Speaking of 80s, the bonus cover of Push It To The Limit continues proving that power metal covers of 80s songs always work.

Louhimo’s vocals range between highs to dirty lows meaning the band can switch from the aggressive sound of tracks like Madness to tracks with gentle passages with ease. It’s nice to have a female singer in power metal that doesn’t feel obligated to try and perform like an Opera singer. She has a lot of power behind her voice, and while she stays away from the blistering highs of other vocalists, she owns the mid-ranges.

The actual music has to be praised as they manage to steer clear of falling into the “every verse riff is a gallop” trap, while at the same time maintaining what we all know and love from the genre.

The song of the album award goes to I Want The World… And Everything In It, mainly because it’s stuck in my head and I feel like giving it this award will somehow get it out of there. It’s a perfect foot stomper (apologies to all downstairs), plus the descending keyboard line in the chorus gives it an extra dimension, we’re used to rises in this genre, not falls. Anything that breaks that pattern therefore tends to stand out.

The only thing I was left wanting for was an “epic.” I’ve become a bit too accustomed to an album ending with a nine minute marathon about some old literary character crammed full of solos and key changes. Sea of Dreams and Angel Cry give us a taster of the Battle Beast’s potential for a glorious epic though, and hopefully album four will give us one.

Unholy Savior might not be treading on any new ground, but power metal is power metal. Give us keyboards, a big chorus and the word quest and we’re happy. Considering this is just their third studio album, they have a wide future ahead of them to make their own splash, for now though they seem more that competent at holding their own among peers.

4/5
4/5

Unholy Savior is out now via Nuclear Blast and Warner Music (Finland), visit the band on Facebook for more information

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