BATTLE BEAST
"Bringer Of Pain"

(Nuclear Blast)

01. Straight To The Heart
02. Bringer Of Pain
03. King For A Day
04. Beyond The Burning Skies
05. Familiar Hell
06. Lost In Wars
07. Bastard Son Of Odin
08. We Will Fight
09. Dancing With The Beast
10. Far From Heaven

RATING: 8/10

The members of Finland's BATTLE BEAST are bona fide rock stars—well, metal stars, to be more accurate—on their home turf, and 2017 will see the band embark upon its first North American tour, in a quest to expand the band's fanbase. The tour kicks off in spring and supports the group's fourth album: "Bringer of Pain". It's a significantly more streamlined effort compared to 2015's "Unholy Savior". BATTLE BEAST is still obviously a heavy metal band, though a hard rock pace, structure and appeal encapsulates that core in place of the previously prominent archetypal power metal structures.

There is indeed a more adventurous spirit with the unit's approach this go around. Outside of an epic synth solo and shades of metal guitar, "Dancing With The Beast" is a full-on electropop song, far from exceptional, but perfunctory and enjoyable enough, nevertheless. The band's transformation can largely be attributed to the departure of original guitarist and main songwriter Anton Kabanen, whose vacancy has since been permanently filled by Joona Björkroth, keyboardist Janne Björkroth's brother. Janne's own contribution takes on a more eighties synth pop aesthetic nowadays. The synth lines continue to be one of the band's most distinguishing features, and Janne's stellar performance ranges from the perfect punctuations during the chorus of "King For A Day" to the dizzying solo midway through "Beyond The Burning Skies".

While BATTLE BEAST's concise and memorable instrumentation and songwriting can't be understated, Noora Louhimo's impassioned singing steals the show yet again. She has a Ronnie James Dio-like timbre and command of her voice that is as good as one can find and hope for in the genre. Whether she's belting out the chorus of opener "Straight To The Heart" or offering an almost venomous spoken word narrative during "Familiar Hell", her talent is simply undeniable.

"Lost In Wars", a track that could do without the futuristic nu-metal melodrama, stands out with the alternating vocals and harmonies between Louhimo and Eero Sipila, who also belts out soaring death metal growling and ominous spoken word parts. But this is a small drawback to what is otherwise a memorable, catchy heavy metal album that has enough appeal to draw in hard rock fans.

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