Review: Battle Beast – Bringer of Pain
Written by Brett Kihlmire
It seems like Unholy Savior came out just a few months ago, but it’s been two years and I’m just now getting my itch for new Battle Beast. So far the band hasn’t disappointed it’s legions of fans and has done better on the charts with each release. It’s not time to see if the band can recreate the magic with their fourth entry, Bringer of Pain.
Battle Beast kicks right into gear with ‘Straight to the Heart.’ Groovy riffs, solid rhythms, and catchy synths start things nicely right before singer Noora Louhimo charges into battle with a distinctive battle cry. However, things take an unexpected turn, for while the music stays relatively similar, Louhimo’s vocals have taken a fresh approach from the older albums. Adopting more of a glam style marked by soaring highs and punkish attitude I was a little on the fence with this new approach, especially with the lack of the harsh vocals I’ve become accustomed to. Rest assured, however, Louhimo won me over and this song really rips and tears, especially with that guitar solo at the end.
‘Bringer of Pain’ is classic Battle Beast through and through. Charging howls, sharp riffing, powerful rhythms, and speedy leads drive things with a hard metal edge. Group vocals and Louhimo’s legendary harsh-but-clean vocals blend perfectly with her somewhat glam approach. And then there’s the solos; if there’s one thing Battle Beast has perfected along the way it’s their solos. They’re oftentimes a shred lord’s dream. Least to say, this one is worthy of being the title track. It’s guaranteed to make you rock!
‘King For A Day’ is the first single off the album and something of a letdown. The synths are strangely reminiscent of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir,’ which isn’t a bad thing, but once you make that association throws things off kilter. What really rubs me the wrong way, however, are the lyrics. This one steps out of Battle Beast’s familiar fantasy realm for a slightly political tone. It’s clearly about a populist dictator playing the people for fools, and given recent events this one just hits an off note for me, but it’s a decent track musically. It’s driven mostly by the synths with the riffs and rhythm taking a bit of a backseat. Why this one was made a video before ‘Bringer of Pain’ or ‘Bastard Son of Odin’ is a question many are wondering, for it’s quite possibly the worst track on the album.
‘Beyond the Burning Skies’ takes us into semi-ballad territory like we started seeing on the Unholy Savior album. It’s got that Battle Beast speed and heaviness but with a touch of soul. Louhimo utilizes her pure vocals quite well here and the synths provide a great atmosphere as the riffs. Out of the songs so far, I particularly like Louhimo’s vocals here. There’s just something about the way she sings that I can’t get enough of.
‘Familiar Hell’ starts out with some samples from television touching on the Tonight Show and news reporting. Before you sigh at the possibility of another political tune take a breath and get lost in the music. This one has some seriously catchy hooks that will surely put you under a spell. The riffs and synths blend together nicely for a catchy style while the reserved guitar solo really rocks. The only part I can really say sucks about this one is the somewhat spoken word section where Louhimo yells at the listener to wake up and face reality. As a music fan, I really hate spoken word, but Battle Beast does an excellent job of transitioning back into the song.
‘Lost in Wars’ is probably the heaviest tune on the album and has a sludgy vibe. The synths are epic and the chugging riffs make you bang your head, but there’s that pesky spoken word again. It just ruins the flow of the song whenever it appears. Honestly, this track is probably one of the bottom rungs of the album. It’s not a bad tune, but it’s just kind of redundant making it a little hard not to just skip over after the first play through.
After two lukewarm tracks ‘Bastard Son of Odin’ jumps into the fray to kick your ass and take your name. This one is fast, catchy, and seething with power metal goodness. Synths lead the charge early on and an awesome gallop gets you into the fighting spirit. Louhimo’s harsher vocals return to tell the story of a glorious and divine warrior coming to lay the smack down on the demon horde. Lyrics like ‘Bastard son of Odin, born to kick your ass!’ and ‘Brace yourself to be consumed, for now he will attack!’ are impossible to hate. This one sets your metal spirit on fire and will have you banging your head and screaming for more even before that shreddy guitar solo. Hell, this song rocks so hard I can even forgive the bloody spoken word section. I mean, who can argue with the voice of the All Father?
With ’Bastard Son of Odin’ Battle Beast saved themselves from a slow downward spiral to the end of the album. That track kicked some serious ass and this vibe is continued on ‘We Will Fight.’ This war anthem beckons the listener to rock hard through this semi-ballad and wake their inner warrior to take on whatever challenges they’re facing. A standout aspect of this one is Louhimo once more, for there’s no ignoring the versatility of her voice, especially when comparing it to her two previous records with Battle Beast.
I’ll be honest, ‘Dancing with the Beast’ had me tilt my head like a confused dog. This one isn’t quite what you’re expecting after the last two tracks. It’s very much a glam metal tune with heavy ‘80’s influence. Honestly, it’s a pretty addicting song. It may be bubblegum metal, but I really like the layered vocal style and atmosphere of this one. Hell, if this were the 1980’s this would be movie soundtrack worthy, as it invokes memories of some great Kenny Loggins anthems.
Battle Beast has certainly mixed it up on this album. We’ve had some punishing metal tracks, some semi-ballads, and to finish this one off we get a ballad with ‘Far From Heaven.’ Jazzy lead guitars, pianos, and passionate singing mark this one. Greatly reminding me of something you might hear from Within Temptation or Delain, this track really shows how versatile Battle Beast can be. It’s an inspirational tune and really ends this album on a high note for ballad-lovers.
Four albums into their career and Battle Beast is only getting better. The band has come a long way from their dungeons and dragons inspired debut, and many wonder if they would survive without Anton Kabanen, but they sure as hell did. Bringer of Pain may shake things up a bit, but if you liked Unholy Savior then you’re going to like Bringer of Pain. It continues the band’s evolution for better or worse. While it’ not their best album, in my opinion that title belongs to their self-titled, this one is well worth the money. 8.5/10