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You know what I hate about military marching bands? They're not representative of what actually goes on in war. The orderly marching and the generally happy sounding fanfare doesn't represent what actually goes on in a war zone. Now go ahead and say "Fuck you, Wilytank! You've never served! You don't know it's like on the battlefield either!" And while that is true, I think the common theme of movies like Full Metal Jacket, Apocalypse Now, and Saving Private Ryan is that war is hell. It's chaos, it's death. And to that end, I say military songs need more explosiveness. This is where Panzerchrist come in. They're already one of my favorite nowadays death metal bands based on their previous albums, but here on Battalion Beast they shine their brightest. This album is as hard and heavy as the tank on the cover art and as violent as the shell being shot from its main cannon.
Battalion Beast opens fire with "The Lean Black Cruisers" as Reno Killerich blast beats by himself before being joined by the tremolo riffs. At this point, you can see how warlike this album is. The blast beasts and riffs sound like machine gun fire, artillery pounding, and rolling tank treads all at once. This idea goes through two-thirds of the album. The other third consists of the occasional slow down and/or atmospheric twist. "The Lean Black Cruisers" does have a break with a piano part before proceeding to the guitar solo and "Infants' Graves" and "War in the North" are noticeably slower songs. The music still sounds grim during these parts though and there's no heroic or hopeful sound at all to be found here. The album's sound epitomizes the main activity going on in war: people violently dying.
The biggest outlier for the songs though is the closer "The Spirit of Soldiers". This 9 minute mid-paced semi-ballad is a haunting way to end the album. Thematically, the sound seems to represent all the souls of the soldiers killed in action being whisked away to purgatory, and with the anthemic yet dirgy hook combining keyboards and lead guitar for max effect this makes for a fitting end to the violence.
Vocalist Bo Summer makes his third and final Panzerchrist appearance here on Battalion Beast and he just sounds vicious. He's easily the best vocalist that's ever been involved with Panzerchrist. He combines high pitched shrieks with this demonic guttural bellowing for the low vocals as he narrates the pandemonium that ensues throughout the album and ending each song with "Christ, thy name is Panzer!" He's a very powerful death metal vocalist and the band is now weaker since he left.
I'm out of ammunition. Battalion Beast is one of the best death metal album of the past decade and a personal favorite from the whole genre. This album is spectacular from start to finish but the standouts are "The Lean Black Cruisers", "The Gods They Do Not Give Us Long", "Flame of the Panzerchrist", and "The Spirit of Soldiers". Listen to this album, especially if you have to sit through your younger brother's high school marching band concert.
Christ, thy name is motherfuckin' Panzer.