Battle Beast – “No More Hollywood Endings” (Nuclear Blast)
Steadily following from its 2015 predecessor, this 5th release from Finnish heavy / power metallers shows they have firmly found their feet both musically as well as a band. With the addition of lead guitarist Joona Björkroth, Battle Beast have at last brushed off the last traces of longtime guitarist and main songwriter Anton Kabanen, although his pop rock metal is still evident in some of the 11 tracks here. However, with all the band now contributing to the song writing, there’s more of a variety with symphonic rock, ballads, stadium rock and even touches of AOR evident in the material, some of which even combines these styles! Still, it’s all been done very well indeed, from the composing to the musicianship and of course, the sterling sound which definitely promises fulfilment on the live front for any of these tracks, attesting to the talent of the band. Likewise, there’s a more epic vibe gracing all the numbers with a real feeling of strength running through all of them, be it during the quieter or more thunderous moments probably manifesting the confidence and fortitude of the members. Thundering in like a cavalry charge on ‘The Golden Horde’ led by Noora Louhimo’s powerful singing and screaming, the fast kick beats meld slickly with Joona Björkroth’s breathtaking breaks and solo to culminate in the massively catchy singalong chorus resplendent with stirring warrior melodies. With its atmospheric film score intro courtesy of Janne Björkroth’s keytar and some light military drumming from Pyry Vikki, Louhimo’s soulful highs take ‘Raise Your Fists’ into an irresistible rocker with huge, stirring grooves topped off brilliantly by tender melodies before another smoking solo from Joona Björkroth just burns you with its passion. Although opening delicately, ‘Eden’ soon erupts with abundant power melodies and even more heart stealing emotion in Louhimo’s singing, proving that behind all the screams and power, this woman also has a voice – and an incredibly moving one at that – and only matched by Joona Björkroth’s orgasmic wailing solo, so not surprising they chose this song to be their single! Closing this amazing album with ‘World On Fire’, its back the original Kabanen pop rock sound, with tons of harmonies, big synths, hearty (key)guitar and of course, Louhimo’s angelic girlie singing all powering a monster melody that hooks you in right from the off with energy and an undying passion until the end. What more can I say – the beast is back!