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Epic Metal Mastery - 100%

Sargon_The_Terrible, April 7th, 2008

This was one of the releases I was awaiting most eagerly. I loved Battleroar's debut album to death, and they could not get this one out soon enough for me. But as much as I hoped for with this album, the guys from Athens have surpassed it. "Age Of Chaos" is the true metal album of the year, and a major coup for everyone involved.

If you heard Battleroar's last album, then you know what to expect here: epic, tolling true metal that never goes too fast, but never slows down into real Doom territory either. Battleroar have their own distinct sound that draws on influences from Manilla Road to Cirith Ungol, but isn't really strongly reminiscent of anyone. Their debut was full of fun crunchers like "Swordbrother" and "Egyptian Doom", but was kept from being classic by a mediocre production job and slightly restrained performances. All that is fixed this time out, and "Age Of Chaos" sounds huge, without sounding modern. I expected that this band would get a better recording the second time out, what I did not expect was the huge leap in songwriting.

Speaking of Manilla Road, when a band opens their album with a four-minute acoustic ballad written and sung by Mark Shelton, it tells you two things: they are serious MR fans, and they have big frigging balls. I'm sure lots of people will scratch their heads over that one, but for 'Road fans, hearing Mark the Shark sing the titular line in his magic croon is just a treat. No other voice evokes forgotten times and mystic places so well as his.

But after the warm-up, Battleroar start kicking your face in with the swift, pummeling "Vampire Killer", which is the fastest, most direct song on here. After that Battleroar begin to show off the melodic intricacy that is the hallmark of this album with stellar cuts like "Siegecraft", "Deep Buried Faith", the haunting "Tower Of The Elephant" and the awesome "Dyvim Tvar". Yes, they cover the expected Conan, Lord Of The Rings, and Elric territory, but nothing can disguise the serious intent behind their music, or the catchy, haunting, and even beautiful melodies they have filled this CD with. There is not a bad song on here. Not. One. I can't pick favorites because I love them all too much. "Dreams On Steel" closes out the album with another beautiful acoustic number, showing off what singer Marco Concoreggi can do when he wants to. A beautiful, haunting song. And when it's over, you press 'play' again.

I have the double digipack with the DVD, and it's fun, though not essential. You get some studio featurettes that are honestly pretty dull, an interview with very bad sound so you can hardly hear anyone speak, and some live clips. The live clips have truly terrible video and sound quality, but you can see the band and the crowd are having a great fucking time, and you wish you were there. The part where they drag Mark Shelton on stage and do the MR classic "The Ram" is worth it all by itself. You won't see shows like this here in the states, as there are guys in the front row waving frigging swords around. Super cool.

I was hoping this would be good, but Battleroar completely surpassed my expectations and made the True Metal album of the year – and I say that in a year when Manilla Road released the awesome "Gates Of Fire", but I am forced to admit that their admirers have surpassed them this time. I haven't been able to pry "Age Of Chaos" out of my player for weeks now, and it keeps getting better. If you only buy one True Metal album this year, it had better be this one. Stellar.

Originally written for www.metalcrypt.com

Anyone say Epic? - 80%

Torwilligous, October 13th, 2006

... because that's what you're going to get here. This is Ye Olde Epic Heavy Metal through and through, absorbing the largest part of its influence from the convoluted aural journeys of the almighty Manilla Road. I also hear a clear similarity to Italy's Doomsword, though to my mind Battleroar are better.

So, for the uninitiated, what does this actually sound like? Well, there's lumbering, majestic riffs, glorious soaring lead guitars, incredible ethereal vocal lines, and crashing, powerful drums from the old school - a fat, rich sound, and plenty of fills all over the shop. The musicianship of this band is not actually anything remarkable in terms of pure technique (aside from the astonishing vocalist, Mr. Marco Concoreggi), but what these guys do have is plenty of atmosphere and character. You won't find faceless billion-mile-an-hour shredding here, but music which actually sounds warm and deeply human. The atmosphere these guys conjure up is glorious, somehow managing to be both reflective and destructive at the same time; horn blasts, battle sounds and melancholy violins play minor roles in supporting the main metal musicians.

So what about the song writing? The album actually starts and ends with ballads - but what ballads! The first features the legendary Mark Shelton laying down vocals (always a plus), and is wonderfully atmospheric. For my money though, the closer 'Dreams on Steel' is probably the best ballad ever written, which Concoreggi's astoundingly clear and beautiful vocals soar over the top to magical effect. The remaining eight tracks are stirring, full-blooded slabs of metal, with particular kudos going to the awesome epics 'Dyvim Tvar' and 'Calm Before the Storm' - the latter featuring another exceptional appearence by Shelton, this time laying down one of his trademark solos.

In conclusion, any fan of epic or true metal really needs to pick this out sometime soon; this Greek band really have a passion for what they are doing, and it shows through as clear as day. Excellent job!