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Bad - 40%

Empyreal, April 20th, 2017

This is a bad album. Battle Beast were an old favorite of mine from their 2011 debut Steel, which I still think is a fucking fun, heavy, cool album - it showed a band excited to play and with some cool, aggressive 80s-style riffing. But ever since then they’ve just been getting less interesting with each subsequent album. Their last one Unholy Savior had some good cuts but then really dropped off in its second half - and now we have Bringer Of Pain, which just feels ultimately disposable throughout.

Oh, sure - there are some decent cuts here, and the band can play. The first few songs aren’t bad, though they tend to sound like a heavied-up 80s workout gym pop spandex band of some kind. Or maybe what Accept’s Metal Heart would’ve been like if the members had been really into ABBA. And the band is sharp and proficient and clean as hell in every aspect. But the ideas are small and so cliche. The songwriting is a lot of verse-chorus monotony, and with an overly commercial, polished sheen over everything that makes it all sound quite safe and toothless, so even the good stuff here gets old pretty fast.

“Lost In Wars,” featuring the guy from Amorphis, is just a confusing misstep, with a Nightwishy symphonic backing and odd harsher vocals, but it doesn’t really flow too well and ends up just checking off the ‘cliche different-sounding track’ criteria a lot of these albums have. It’s ‘different,’ sure, but only because the band needed a song that didn’t sound like the others - it sounds like a forced, manufactured difference rather than an organic choice. And Tomi Joutsen just doesn’t do much for me, not coming off as either passionate or individual so much as just bland. Other songs like “We Will Fight” are equally dull, and the closing ballad is an awful piano-led thing that I doubt even the worst, most pandering Disney crap would want in its soundtrack. Just terrible.

The overall feeling I get from this is that it was written to fulfill some kind of quota. I have no way of knowing whether that’s true - maybe the band did have a lot of passion behind this album. But it doesn’t come off that way to the listener and the band just doesn’t seem to have anything to say. It all just sounds like pre-processed, overly safe music taking the heavy metal sound and turning it into a sort of disposable Product, rather than art or anything genuine. It’s sort of emblematic of what a lot of bands in this new mainstream metal revival have been doing for years - Amon Amarth, Sabaton, some later Nightwish, Hammerfall and the likes. The overly safe, polished and generic writing just ends up sounding way too similar to everything else in the same category, and it’s not even remotely exciting.

At this rate Battle Beast has pretty much done the same thing as Sabaton so far as becoming overly commercialized, slick and dull - so I fully expect them to put out something of the same terrible quality as The Last Stand in like two years, which would really be something, to do the same thing in roughly half the time. Oh well. At least Steel is still pretty damn fun.