||SCOTT ADAMS: TERROR AUSTRALIS
(Nuclear Blast Records)
Release Date: 9th January 2015
Powermad Finns Battle Beast are back and, it has to be said, sounding better than ever. 'Unholy Savior' (sic) is their third full-length effort and after the disappointment of second album 'Battle Beast', the pressure was definitely on guitarist Anton Kabanen and company to deliver the goods here.
They've certainly done that. Unholy Savior is a satisfyingly "complete" sounding album, an album where all the bits of greatness the band has hinted at in the past find themselves being woven together with satisfyingly high impact.
Personally I felt the big drawback of the last album was the vocal performance of Noora Louhimo, who I felt failed to adequately replace the first album's vocalist Nitte Valo in terms of power and personality.
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Well, those misgivings have been firmly dismissed on '...Savior'... opening the album in a sultry fashion reminiscent of the Metal Queen Lee Aaron herself, Louhimo reaches top gear quickly unleashing a truly magnificent scream at the end of the title track which is nothing less than an affirmation that she's finally arrived as this band's rightful vocalist. It's a magnificent performance, and she keeps it up throughout the album.
There's more variety on this album, too. The band no longer seem to feel bound to put the pedal to the Metal all the time, occasionally easing off the gas and giving rein to their eighties fantasies with predictably encouraging (for this reviewer at least) results.
'Sea Of Dreams', despite its faux-Celtic, Nightwishesque intro, actually sounds like something Roxette might have come up with (and that's no bad thing in my book); at least until the end of the song, that is, when Louhimo unleashes those formidable pipes again and hits the song right out of the park – absolutely spine tingling stuff!
After that excursion into semi-wimpdom, the explosion of Metal that is 'Speed And Danger' sounds even heavier than it probably is. The song sounds like the sort of thrashy Metal Judas Priest were experimenting with around the time of 'Ram It Down', especially the frantic soloing of Kabanen who manages to sound like both Glenn Tipton and KK Downing in the space of about four bars – no mean feat!
The parping keyboard solo by Janne Bjorkroth adds a bit of light relief before he and Kabanen then attempt to out-Stratovarius Stratovarius in a deliriously over the top instrumental break. All Heavy Metal life is here!
'Touch In The Night' has an even more ludicrously eighties intro, sounding like something Laura Brannigan – or even Samantha Fox - might have released, before easing into an easy Euro Pop groove where Noora is allowed to highlight the softer side of her vocal range. It's cheesy as all hell, but somehow it works, and it's here that the true value to the Battle Beast blueprint of Louhimo is revealed – Nitte Valo could never (would never?) have sung this little gem.
So there you have it – easily Battle Beast's most appealing and enjoyable outing yet, though songs like 'Touch In The Night' are sure to lose them some of their more hardcore Metallic following.
'Unholy Savior' finds the band finally finding their true niche, and sounding all the more impressive for it.
More Scott Adams right here.