REVIEW: BATTLE BEAST – “The Bringer Of Pain”
Battle Beast have returned to the scene with their fourth studio album, ‘The Bringer of Pain’, the follow up to 2015’s ‘Unholy Saviour’, and the first release since Anton Kabanen – the group’s main songwriter – left the band. I for one was interested in seeing how they did without him…and it didn’t end well.
The opening track “Straight to the Heart” came in screaming with Noora Louhimo, and some lovely sounding synth keyboards, although it’s not until the chorus where Noora unleashes the full power of her vocals. The song has a good, high-tempo with new guitarist Joona Björkroth inserting a nice solo in the middle of the track that keeps the pace up. Noora is the stand-out performer on this track, and throughout the whole song she shows the extent of her vocal range. It’s a strong opening, but then we can’t expect any less from this band.
Next up was “The Bringer of Pain”. A much faster tempo is the most noteworthy feature of this song, but it gives it a blink-and-you-miss-it quality to the track. It’s short, sharp and keeps the album moving along nicely, but there’s nothing particularly impressive about the titular track of the album.
“King for a Day” was the first single from this album, and right from the start you can see why they chose this song to introduce their new work to us. Although it’s not as high-tempo as the first two tracks of the album, it’s actually nicer to listen to; there’s a story being told with the lyrics of this song, which have a distinct political overtone. The whole band seems to really come together on this track, with some impressive backing vocals complimenting everything very well. It’s a very well rounded song, which really shows what the Battle Beast are capable of, and if you enjoy the song as much as I do you’ll be listening to it on repeat for a while.
“Beyond the Burning Skies” is another song where Noora shows off what she can do behind a mic, as she nails several key changes with ease. Janne Björkroth adds in some very nice keyboard work, but the song quickly goes downhill, and the album never really recovers. “Beyond the Burning Skies” starts out interesting, but soon devolves into a very generic track that is utterly indistinguishable from any other power metal song chosen at random.
“Familiar Hell” has a rather catchy chorus to it and some very nice sounding guitar to it. Again Noora has some amazing sounding vocals on this song which will get into your head for a while afterwards add to that Pyry Vikk showing off his impressive drum skills with a nicely paced drum beat at times its very upbeat and rhythmic. It’s not the most amazing song on the album but it’s not the worse either it keeps the album moving along nicely.
“Lost in Wars” there’s not very much to this track you haven’t heard on the album already but one small bright spot is the trading vocals on the verses between Eero Sipila and Noora work surprisingly well. If you add in to that again some nice keyboard parts it makes the song passable but I was hoping for something a little more meaningful.
With “Bastard Son of Odin”, the album finally starts to pick up some pace again; Pyry Vikk and Juuso Soinio give stand-out performances here with some very quick tempo drum and guitar work that help to reinvigorate any listeners who weren’t put off by the previous three tracks. It just breathes life into the album again with a song about Vikings but this song is a great listen. It’s another song short sharp and to the point. Again vocals really work well here with another really catchy up tempo chorus. And one that i can see being added into the bands live set its one that will go down well with live crowds over and over again.
“We Will Fight” The shortest track on the album this is a song that could easily be in a fantasy movie soundtrack used in something like an epic battle scene it’s so descriptive in the how the soldiers will fight to the bitter end with no surrender. Another really nice sounding Guitar solo mixed in with the repetitive chorus of We Will Fight works well on this track. This is the kind of track I’ve come to expect from Battle Beast over the years because this is the kind of song there really good at making creatively and musically.
“Dancing With The Beasts” is a bizarre and disappointing penultimate track. It seems like something better suited to a Daft Punk album – it’s electronic, almost disco sound is totally out of place here and…It’s strange that this band would even make this song; far less put it on an album. It’s even odder coming of the back of tracks like “Bastard Son of Odin” and “We Will Fight” it’s such a shift in the other direction that comes out of the blue. This feel like the kind of song the band made to make sure they had 10 songs on the album and that’s not a good thing if they’re putting something like this on the album just to make up the numbers.
The final song “Far From Haven” is just as weird. It’s a ballad. A full ballad. I mean, ending on a ballad of all things? On an album like this. It’s like stepping into the Twilight Zone. It’s not the worst ballad I’ve ever heard from a metal band who thought they had more range than they actually did, but it is an odd experiment to end an album with, especially when their fans are looking to see how they cope with the new and departed members.
To be brutally honest, I was glad when this album ‘The Bringer Of Pain’ was over. It was, sadly, a repeat of what often happens when a band loses their lead songwriter. Anton Kabanen bought a lot of creativity to Battle Beast, and without him and his lyrical talents, they seem to have lost the spark they once had. To give them their due, “King For a Day” and “Straight to the Heart” are well constructed and thought out. “King For a Day” especially will be on my playlist for the foreseeable future. The album started well, but tailed off in the middle, and the less said about the end, the better. Disasters like “Dancing With The Beast” dragged the album down to mediocrity, and I have no clue what they were thinking when the came up with the idea of doing a full electro track.
Hopefully, this was a one-off, a temporary set-back as they get used to their personnel changes, and the band will rediscover their previous fine form. We can only hope, but at this point, there’s no telling what comes next for Battle Beast.