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Sunday, 12 February 2017

Reviews: Battle Beast, Black Anvil, Valis Ablaze

Battle Beast: Bringer Of Pain (Nuclear Blast)

Bringer Of Pain is the fourth album from Finns Battle Beast and their third with Noora Louhimo behind the mic. It also serves as something of a departure for the band as they have seemed to have moved away from the heavy metal roots towards a much more accessible sound with the keyboard heavy power metal echoing the bouncing synth fuelled assault of Amaranthe. Opening with the massively upbeat Straight To The Heart the keys are probably the most important thing in this song giving it the fist-punching power of Sabaton, the keys even sound a little like their famous Ghost Division.

It’s a powerful opener that dives headlong into the rampaging title track which has impressive blastbeats and 80’s-like staccato guitars last heard in a Shrapnel records album, the solos intertwine and play off one another with dive-bombs and double tapping throughout, in fact Juuso Sonio (guitar), Joona Bjorkroth (guitar) and his brother Janne (keys) all mix beautifully letting songs like the chunky King For A Day feel tough but with the orchestral elements and synths gives it the feel of a Eurovision song.

Yes that’s right I said Eurovision but that’s what much of this album sounds like the most obvious being Dancing With The Beast which Euro-pop at its cheesiest, with tracks like this Battle Beast could win the International singing competition much like fellow Finns Lordi. The propulsive Beyond The Burning Skies which could be a Within Temptation track due to the thumping rhythm section of Eero Siplia (bass) and Pyry Vikki (drums) and the classical passages that run through it.

Noora’s vocals are as usual simply beautiful her range is staggering, one minute she soars on the overwrought finale Far From Heaven, the next she snarls on the hard rocking Familiar Hell and the classic metal of Bastard Son Of Odin, she works well with Eero on the processed beat driven Lost In Wars. Bringer Of Pain is hard hitting record that could see Battle Beast take that next step towards super stardom, like a female fronted Sabaton, it’s record chock full of heavy, hook-filled metal. 8/10

Black Anvil: As Was (Relapse)

Dirty New York thrash metal is always welcome here at MoM towers and not many do it better than Black Anvil. This trio all made their livings in NYHC bands throwing down in scuzzy venues with violent rallying cries and they have brought this attitude to Black Anvil with the record having 50 minutes of unashamedly angry music, featuring scything riffs, fuzzy bass lines and more double kicks than martial arts competition.

Black Anvil plays the black metal of Venom, nasty, proto-thrash with a punk ethos. The record opens with the 8 minute long On Forgotten Ways which marries desolate, hopeless lyrics with a nightmarish, ever changing soundscape, the vocals move between abrasive and choral like the best of the Nordic black metal acts and the speed and power is kept at a high level throughout.

Black Anvil won’t be happy until the shaken the flesh off your bones and with this fourth record the achieve that, it’s not a major departure from their previous efforts but they continue to produce music that is dark and dangerous. 7/10

Valis Ablaze: Insularity EP (Solna Sounds)

Djent is one of those genres much like Nu-Metal that seemed to explode out of nowhere with a raft of bands all emulating the leaders of the pack. Much like Nu-Metal though after a while the genre petered out and there were far fewer bands forming with that sound, luckily the ones that were seemed to have a better more subtle understanding of the music.

This has happened in the Djent scene with many of the most recent bands having much more a handle on the genre than those bands that arrived just as the scene was blowing up. Bristol/Manchester Valis Ablaze are one such band, jumping headlong into the more mathematical, technical yet melodic sound of bands such as Tesseract (a band they will be supporting on an upcoming Plymouth date) melding the palm-muted, down-tuned riffs with soaring samples and vocals.

As is always evident with the more Djent styled bands the playing on this record is incredible as a special mention has to go to bassist Kieran Hogarty who takes what is often much maligned instrument and puts it at the forefront of the musical backing, it's his heaviness that underpins tracks such as Persuasion as you can hear his fleet fingers over the everything.

This EP has been in production for a while now and it has definitely been worth it the songs all stand out as being superbly crafted pieces with powerful vocals, I see big things ahead for Valis Ablaze. 8/10

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