Review by Rick Ossian
Here at WWRS we are all about equality of the genders. Hell, you probably tire of hearing me go on and on about female singers from the Norse countries in my reviews. It is true, I probably do it ad nauseum…in all fairness, there are quite a few bands out there who are sporting a sultry seductress on the vocals. Well, folks, here’s another one from Helsinki. Her name is Is Noura Louhimo, and she fronts a Metal Monster known as Battle Beast (fourth album, no less. Been looking forward to this one! – Ed). Oh, no, not again, Rick! I can hear you from across the pond. She is different, I’m telling you. She really attacks the vocals. She literally lances the lyrics, if you will. Her partners in crime are Pyry Vikki on drums, Joona Bjorkroth on guitars and vocals, Juuso Soinio on guitar, Eero Sipila on bass and vocals and Janne Bjorkroth on keys and vocals.
Bringer of Pain is the fourth outing from this group, following 2012’s Steel, a self-titled disc in 2013, and 2015’s Unholy Savior. These folks formed in 2008, and they have been a winner of Wacken’s Metal Battle! So, as you read, not just another nuisance from the North. Once you hear the tunes involved, you may be on the wagon with me. In fact, I believe I will cue it up again right now as I type!
Straight to the Heart is the perfect lead off track. It is bright, heavy and very punchy. How apt is that title? It cuts to the bone, readers, and you will soon hear how full of purpose these musicians are. This is great stuff, and the vocals lend an added urgency to the proceedings. In fact, Noura’s opening scream should put you at the edge of your seat, just as it did me to mine! Wait, did I just say that out loud? Love the chugging beat to this uptempo number, and I’m sure you will too. Nice shredding lead at 2:15, and another at the three-minute mark.
The title track is up next, and it features that double-bass kick drum you always hear me blathering on about. It is used to great effect here, as you will no doubt surmise upon your listening.
King For a Day is an excellent tune with a wickedly cool chugging riff. Oh, and is that a xylophone I hear? Haven’t heard one of those for a bit. Fair enough. There are some guitar pyrotechnics here, especially those squeals you hear Zakk Wylde do so often. Only hear it’s pretty cool and not overdone. The vocals are, for lack of a better word, vengeful. Angry but not boring. For those of you who still aren’t blown away, there are plenty of FX and keys/strings to keep you tuned in.
Beyond the Burning Skies is powerful stuff. Pretty straight forward, for the most part. I am digging the drums and the vocals. “Close your eyes and reach beyond the heavens“, Noura beckons us. There is a solo at the three minute mark, but I’m kind of wondering if the keys and the guitars are so in sync that they are both soloing in and out of each other’s paths, so to speak. Very enticing stuff indeed.
Familiar Hell has one of those eerie vocal FX intros, but is swiftly followed by big heavy riffy power chords. This is the way to Riff City right here folks, and while it might not quite be on Heavy as Fuck Avenue, I think we’re in the right neighborhood! This tune features that all-too-familiar chugging uptempo beat, which though it can be a pattern, it is a welcome one to these ears. The rant/rap at about three minutes in is a refreshing update to the vocals, and is an element that I would not hesitate to leave in during the editing process. That evil wicked laughter at the end is also very nice.
Lost in Wars features more super-heavy riffs and vocal FX, but it is used in a stately, almost enigmatic fashion. It is a powerful number , with big chords on a midtempo template. There is also a vocal duet, if you listen closely you may be able to detect another voice amid the din. The keyboard also imitates the violin very well here.
Bastard Son of Odin is next in the queue, and I believe everyone will join me in lauding 5 cool points awarded to the group for sheer awesomeness of the title alone. It does not disappoint in the tune department, either. This one features big keys, big drums and even bigger guitars, plus a beautifully heavy main riff and those vengeful vocals again. Man, I just can’t get enough of that voice! I’m also digging the way the guitars gallop along à la Maiden. About two-and-a-half minutes in we get some more shredding, this time a dual lead as well. At 2:55 we get some nice vocal FX too. Oh, and the main riff is a face-melter!
We Will Fight features another killer main riff, and the steady, powerful pumping that is Noura’s vocal ability. This is powerful stuff, peeps. Dig it, and check out the next track!
Dancing With the Beast is everything you might expect from a band like this and then some. It shows the eclectic nature of the beast, particularly the bizarre techno opening. This is kind of a haunting tune, and I know I’m fond of saying that, but this had that creepy feeling that you get when your hair stands on end, you know? It’s also a bit different tempo-wise. It may even be kind of radio friendly. There’s a good beat, and you can dance to it. I give it a 69, Dick! Again, I’m digging the vocals, and at 2:50 you can hear the guitars and the keys battling for space again.
The closer for the day, Far From Heaven, is not just another stab at radio-friendly Battle Metal. This begins with a beautiful piano, and just when you think it’s going to be a ballad, it is, but it’s more. This is mellower, but it also has that bluesy, soulful bluster to it. It’s a tear-jerker, and it’s stately, and elegant, but it’s still very very good. We get a nice Blues-laced guitar and keyboard break at 2:50 again, and of course the vocals do NOT disappoint!
Over all, if you’re looking for a reason to make a purchase, then take this with you. Though there may be many bands out there who fall into Battle Beast‘s category/genre/pigeonhole/whatever, these folks really nail it, and they do it with conviction.