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domenica 8 marzo 2015

Battle Beast - Unholy Savior

#FOR FANS OF: Heavy/Power, Iron Maiden
Battle Beast have made a mark over the last 4 years, that cannot be denied. But I can't shake the feeling they were living under the shadow of more widely-known bands that they happened to tour with, (Delain, Sabaton, etc.). But now, prepare for the Finnish sextet to totally break free with the release of their third full-length. I'll be the first to admit I wasn't expecting anything special - a few gang-shout choruses here, a few keyboard solos there - but Noora and crew have just completely let loose with one hell of a thrill-ride that simply oozes metal in its purest form. Okay, "purest form" may be bending the truth. 'Unholy Savior' is brimming with an OTT attitude, filling every empty space with bells and whistles. But therein lies the magic of this release; it simply does not let go. From the heralding crash of "Lionheart", right through to their hammering cover of Paul Engemann's Push it to The Limit", this is an all-out, balls-to-the-wall, bombast-athon. That's not to say there isn't plenty of variation. Battle Beast are quite adept at ensuring their audiences never throw the 'one-trick-pony' insult at them. Here you will find up-tempo power metal hymns, mid-tempo stomping rockers, beautiful ballads, and even an 80s-inspired disco-esque tune with "Touch in the Night". Each verse, each chorus, each blazing guitar solo...they're all distinguishable from the last, providing much-desired variety and giving this album 100% replay value. The production is absolutely perfect - so full of power and majesty. Bright keyboards shimmer above a full, rounded guitar tone and a real spiky, piercing drum sound. There are excellent performances all round from this group of talented Finns - especially notable in the duel guitar/keyboard solos which simply glow with both technicality and control. But the star of the show is the magnificent mouth of Noora Louhimo. Often confused as the 'gimmick' of this band, her set of pipes stretches to stratospheric levels on 'Unholy Savior'. She is perfectly capable of sweet, lyrical melody - as exemplified on the gorgeous "Sea of Dreams". But she is best observed employing her rough, edgy, but insanely precise high-pitched screams. Hail, Noora! You are the new queen of metal! Picking out highlights from such a consistently phenomenal album is certainly not easy. But the first three tracks pack so much of a wallop, it digs right into the skin of the listener's face, absolutely forcing him/her to bang their heads like it's 1985! Aside from them, the previously mentioned "Sea of Dreams" lulls the listener into a euphoric haze, before being completely annihilated by the explosive "Speed And Danger" (Hmm, that riff sounds familiar...'Metal Militia' anyone?). I challenge you to find a band who sound more enthusiastic, more energetic, more vibrant, more METAL than Battle Beast right now. Here's hoping that this is a sign of things to come - because if Noora and co. carry on this way, they will be utterly unstoppable. Already on the list of 'best of 2015'? Thought so. "Put your pedal to the metal, It's time to rock and ride! Keep the engine roaring, louder than hell!" (Larry Best)

(Nuclear Blast - 2015)
Score: 90