Album Review – Battle Beast / Bringer Of Pain (2017)

Bringing to our ears and hearts first-class music inspired by the golden years of Heavy Metal, the most electrified metal squad from Finland are ready to storm the world once again with their brand new kick-ass classy album.

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battle-beast_bringer-of-painAfter listening to Bringer Of Pain, the fourth full-length album by Finnish metallers Battle Beast, there are two immediate conclusion that come to my mind. First, that the motto “100 % Heavy Metal – 0 % Bullshit!” couldn’t be more precise to describe the electrified Heavy and Power Metal compositions by this Helsinki-based squad. And second, the entire album feels like it was recorded back in the 80’s or 90’s due to its sensational old school aura, but only released now in 2017. And perhaps paying a tribute to the golden years of heavy music was the original goal of the band with Bringer Of Pain, starting with its impactful name. “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.”

The album’s classic album art, crafted by the specialist of realistic fantasy art Jan Yrlund (Darkgrove), is the perfect depiction of what Battle Beast have to offer their fans this time. “The cover art is mainly involved with the title track of the album, “Bringer of Pain”, which is obviously about this super evil female character destroying stuff. We brainstormed a little around this topic and then sent some sketches to Jan, who returned with the picture, some mean-looking woman who appears like she’s coming through the box art to kick your ass. And since ‘kicking ass’ is pretty much exactly what this band is about, we considered it a very fitting cover.” In addition to that, the main change from their previous album, the flammable Unholy Savior, is the departure of guitarist and main songwriter Anton Kabanen, but that doesn’t mean the band couldn’t maintain their signature sound alive, with newcomer Joona Björkroth fitting perfectly to everything Battle Beast stands for.

The first track of this rousing album, Straight to the Heart, brings to the listener pure upbeat Heavy Metal from the 80’s with the electrified keyboards by Janne Björkroth and the flawless vocals by the fiery metal goddess Noora Louhimo turning it into an instant classic. Put differently, it’s that type of metal music that will put you to dance right away while you scream its chorus from the top of your lungs together with Noora. Albeit the name of the album and its cover art bring the unbeatable Painkiller to our minds, the title-track Bringer of Pain actually reminds me of another high-octane classic by the almighty Judas Priest, “Freewheel Burning”, which obviously means it’s beyond awesome. Furthermore, the frantic performances by Pyry Vikki on drums and both Juuso Soinio and Joona with their blazing guitar riffs and solos, together with the song’s epic background vibe, turn it into the best of all tracks in my humble opinion. Whereas the first single of the album, King for a Day, unites classic Heavy Metal with old school Hard Rock, feeling at times like a modern metallic version of Survivor’s hit “Eye of the Tiger” with another blast of the sensational keyboards by Janne, not to mention its catchy chorus, which will certainly stick inside your mind for a long time (“King for a day / He kills the truth and looks away / King for a day / Lives like the world would end today / King for a day / What do you hide, why do you lie? / Who made the rules for this game? / Who is paying your champagne? / All the mercy in the world / Cannot save you anymore / King for a day”).

battle-beast-2017In Beyond the Burning Skies, Battle Beast deliver a beautiful and inspiring musicality, with Noora stealing the spotlight with her powerful and precise vocal lines while the rest of the band maintains a high level of energy flowing from their instruments. Needless to say, listening to this classy chant will make your day better for sure. Then we have Familiar Hell, a song about our inexplicable fear of change and how change can actually bring happiness and joy to our lives, with Janne and bassist Eero Sipilä keeping the adrenaline running from start to finish (if this song had been written in the 80’s, it would have definitely been a top-chart hit); followed by Lost in Wars, a mid-tempo composition showcasing an epic atmosphere with Noora and guest vocalist Tomi Joutsen sounding like the beauty and the beast, boosted by the song’s heavy riffs and thunderous keyboards. And Bastard Son of Odin might have the cheesiest song name, lyrics and rhythm of all, but that ends up working really well as Battle Beast are masters in crafting this type of music. In a nutshell, their “Viking mode” sounds absolutely great, especially the raspy screams by Noora and the galloping bass and drums à la Iron Maiden by Eero and Pyry, respectively.

We Will Fight, an potent Power Metal hymn tailored for singing along with the band while holding your fists in the air, is another mid-tempo tune that enhances Noora’s vocals through its mystical aura and steady beats, while Dancing with the Beast is a very good surprise amidst so many heavy tunes. The first time I saw the song’s name, I honestly thought it would be more ferocious like any song with the word “beast” in it. However, it’s a smooth 80’s Hard Rock ballad with very gentle instrumental pieces, with the sexy voice by Noora leading its pleasant sonority. On the other hand, Far from Heaven is just a below average song that’s way too mellow, sounding like a lame ballad from any of those generic “top 40” artists, which obviously means it’s the worst of all songs hands down. It’s well-played and very melodic indeed, but it lacks punch and electricity. anyway, if you go for the digipack edition of Bringer Of Pain (which can be purchased HERE), you’ll be treated to three amazing bonus tracks, all displaying the band’s trademark high-voltage Power Metal, with Rock Trash being by far the most awesome of them. This is a superb metal hymn that should have been part of the regular version of the album, perhaps its closing tune instead of that boring ballad.

We can never get tired of the indomitable Battle Beast, right? That’s why the band is always willing to share more of their music and their lives with us, which in the case of Bringer Of Pain comes in the form of three entertaining official track-by-track videos from the band that can be seen HERE, HERE and HERE. And Valentine’s Day might be dead and gone this year, but I’m sure if you give your significant other the “Bringer Of Pain special bundle” (for guys or for girls), his or her love for you will only grow stronger than metal. Or you can go to the official Nuclear Blast webstore and choose your favorite option from several versions available. Battle Beast are more than ready to storm the world once again with Bringer Of Pain, bringing to our ears and hearts another shot of their first-class heavy music, and we should be more than thankful for that, as well as for the band not giving us any sign at all of slowing down or giving up metal. Quite the contrary, it seems that their battle will rage on for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: Straight to the Heart, Bringer of Pain, Beyond the Burning Skies, Bastard Son of Odin and Rock Trash.

Worst moments of the album: Far from Heaven.

Released in 2017 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Straight to the Heart 3:31
2. Bringer of Pain 3:04
3. King for a Day 4:33
4. Beyond the Burning Skies 4:39
5. Familiar Hell 4:04
6. Lost in Wars (feat. Tomi Joutsen) 4:34
7. Bastard Son of Odin 3:34
8. We Will Fight 3:26
9. Dancing with the Beast 3:42
10. Far from Heaven 4:20

Limited Edition Digipack bonus tracks
11. God of War 3:56
12. The Eclipse 4:30
13. Rock Trash 3:13

Band members
Noora Louhimo – lead vocals
Juuso Soinio – guitar
Joona Björkroth – guitar, backing vocals
Eero Sipilä – bass guitar, backing vocals
Janne Björkroth – keyboards, backing vocals
Pyry Vikki – drums

Guest musician
Tomi Joutsen – male vocals on “Lost in Wars”

Album Review – Battle Beast / Unholy Savior (2015)

Battle Beast want the world and everything in it, and they’re definitely on their way to conquer it all with their brilliant brand new album.

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battle beast_unholy saviorIf what Finnish Heavy Metal warriors Battle Beast wanted with their 2013 album, the self-titled masterpiece Battle Beast (which was left out of our 2013 top 10 list by a huge and inexcusable mistake), and their brand new album, the mighty Unholy Savior, was conquering the world of heavy music, I must say they are on the right path to reach their goal. Their third full-length album sounds even more professional and polished, always with that magic aura from the 80’s supporting their musicality.

Just like its predecessor, Unholy Savior is an endless feast of heavy riffs, catchy melodies and straightforward Heavy Metal boosted by the inspired performances from all band members, led by guitarist Anton Kabanen and especially the stunning bombshell Noora Louhimo, the “Janis Joplin of Heavy Metal”. Honestly, I cannot think of a band that’s been playing such captivating heavy music nowadays, and things get even more exciting as Battle Beast have the whole package, from their music to their looks. In other words, what else do you need in a Heavy Metal band that those “unholy saviors” from Finland are not offering us?

Unholy Savior has a very simple rule: hitting “play” and banging your fuckin’ head until the end, which becomes obvious from the very first notes in the opening track, Lionheart. This “fight song” focuses on a solid and traditional instrumental with a strong Stratovarius vibe, with Noora’s amazing voice and its inspiring lyrics (especially its chorus) making it one of the best of all songs without a shadow of a doubt. The title-track, Unholy Savior, has that 80’s intro similar to what was done in some songs from their previous album, with its drumming by Pyry Vikki and keyboards by Janne Björkroth dictating the rhythm. Moreover, pay good attention to its backing vocals as they add a lot of electricity to the chorus.

The following track, I Want The World… And Everything In It, is beyond spectacular and the best of the whole album, with its powerful riffs and solos working flawlessly. Besides, it’s quite impossible not to raise your fists and scream the chorus with Noora, whose potent voice perfectly flows through the song’s harsher lines. But before you listen to it again and again, take a listen to the rest of the album starting by the next song, the Power Metal tune Madness, certainly one of the best choices for their live performances with highlights to the nonstop Pyry on drums and, once again, to the gorgeous Noora. As she screams during the song, her name is madness!

battle beastIn order to slow things down a little and let us recover our energy, the band provides us a beautiful “medieval” ballad entitled Sea Of Dreams which focuses 100% on Noora’s voice, and let me tell you her performance and the song lyrics will surely warm up our hearts during the coldest nights of winter so pleasant this song is. After that short break, it’s time to break our necks again with Speed And Danger: with a name like that I don’t need to say it’s as fast and heavy as it can be, right? I would love to get into some circle pits while the band plays this song, with highlights to its great lyrics paying a tribute to several of the band’s Heavy Metal idols.

Touch In The Night, with its 80’s keyboard notes and its lyrics talking about love and passion (“I’m gonna feel the wrath of the king / ‘Cause touching you was a sin / I’m a victim of my own desire”), might not be a bad track, but it gets so pop sometimes (including Noora’s vocals) to the point it’s annoying. The next two tracks are a bit “weird”, but that doesn’t mean they’re not good at all: The Black Swordsman is a nice and short ballad that works as a bridge to Hero’s Quest, an instrumental track tailored for playing video game or drinking beer with your friends, with its guitars and keyboards in total sync.

The last part of this awesome album begins with Far Far Away, a very consistent song about the journey of each and every Heavy Metal fan in the world, with its riffs inspired by classics such as Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, especially by the unique riff from “Two Minutes to Midnight”; followed by the touching ballad Angel Cry, with kudos to Noora for another outstanding performance. To be fair, if anyone still thinks our Metal diva shouldn’t have become the frontwoman of Battle Beast, this song will easily prove why she was indeed the chosen one. And finally, as a more-than-welcome bonus track, we have Push It To The Limit, a Metal version for Paul Engemann’s classic from the 1983’s masterpiece Scarface that will put you to dance.

In short, while Battle Beast keep roaring and spreading their thrilling heavy music all around the world with albums like Battle Beast and now the incredible Unholy Savior, we can rest assured Heavy Metal will stand strong and relevant for many years to come. Those Finnish metallers are getting closer and closer to dominating the entire world of music, and when they finally do so I’m sure everyone will just love it. Who doesn’t want to be ruled by a screaming queen like Noora, right? All hail to Battle Beast!

Best moments of the album: Lionheart, I Want The World… And Everything In It, Sea Of Dreams, Far Far Away and Angel Cry.

Worst moments of the album: Touch In The Night.

Released in 2015 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Lionheart 4:53
2. Unholy Savior 5:37
3. I Want The World… And Everything In It 4:37
4. Madness 4:02
5. Sea Of Dreams 5:01
6. Speed And Danger 4:39
7. Touch In The Night 4:32
8. The Black Swordsman 1:15
9. Hero’s Quest 2:31
10. Far Far Away 3:47
11. Angel Cry 3:34

Bonus Track
12. Push It To The Limit (Paul Engemann cover) 3:20

Band members
Noora Louhimo – vocals
Anton Kabanen – guitar, vocals
Juuso Soinio – guitar
Eero Sipilä – bass, vocals
Janne Björkroth – keyboards
Pyry Vikki – drums