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Review: Battlecross – Rise to Power

Just as the world became in need of something fun and vibrant from the heavy metal community, the five piece thrash outfit Battlecross unleashed a behemoth record entitled “Rise to Power”. After I nearly exhausted their practically perfect prior albums, it was definitely time for the band to renew themselves in the form of another practically perfect album. Each track is full of catchy guitar licks, nearly robotic drumming, and just a tangible vibe of entertainment through the sincerely astounding musicality of every band member. This album is the real deal, and can be purchased via their merch store, Amazon, and iTunes. You can also stream it from Spotify.

Being a relatively committed fan of these guys, I can say with a clear conscience that this album is brilliant, enjoyable, and just the epitome of good old fashion heavy metal. Every song has a memorable melody at one point of another; however, fans like myself have been spoiled to the point that some of the music becomes dry and redundant. In a way, it is as if Battlecross needs to release a subpar album in order for us to appreciate this album to the fullest effect. Regardless, I think every fan of Battlecross can still get behind these tunes and enjoy them to an extent at the very least.

The album immediately begins with the fast, tight, and melodic masterpiece “Scars”. With a really harmonious blend of dark (and slightly funky) bass groove, speedy drum fills and patterns, and a gorgeous half-time feel guitar solo, the song sets us up for a solid experience. Their first single from the album, “Not Your Slave” combines really tight stop-and-go rhythms from all instrumentation, catchy bass, and smoothly composed vocal patterns. Time changes are used sparingly but at critical times in the music that just adds depth and character to the song. All of these elements are anchored by the anthematic chorus that leaves the listener wanting nothing more but to headbang and embrace the pure metal sound perfected by the kings of melodic thrash.

“Absence” is straight thrash-inspired ripping that is beyond catchy and distinctive by nature. At this point though, I realized the excessive use of those unique yet sometimes monotonous high vocals. Every song up to this point were pretty much strictly highs with occasional features of lows, and that pains me as I personally enjoy the lows over the highs. It does not make a huge impact as the solo work in this one is stupendous and some of the best on the album. Even some more bass exposure is the purest ecstasy to my ears.

Following it up comes “Spoiled”, which starts with a very old-school power metal feeling that is really cool. Then, the transition into tasty thrash is effortless. Moreover, the chorus has some nice guitar note-progressions that are uplifting and slightly triumphant. Following it up is the all-hell-is-breaking-loose chaos of “The Climb”. The speed on this one is inhumane and unfair (as my head fails to bang to the beat in perfect time). The tight rhythms on the drums in the intro and chorus parts is also substantially interesting in the grand scheme of the piece. The song even gets pretty brutal with some slow chugging that is simply so satisfying.

“Blood and Lies” features an acoustic introduction that is majestic, magnificent, elegant, and classical in sound. This gives away to unrelenting speed and thrash with a terrific vocal grunt. Half-time sections hit hard in, but the acceleration back into constant double bass and fast riffs is quite impressive. The highlight of this song is the ending duet between the electric and acoustic guitars into another slow, melodic, and heavy chug that continues to decelerate into the end. Next, “Bound by Fear” plays, and this track has been stuck in my head for the past damn week. That slightly darker, almost edgy riff at the end and at 1:21 is my favorite part of the whole album (except for a section later on). That riff is so catchy and fun in a stupid, inexplicable way. Please go listen to it and tell me I’m not crazy. I just lose control of my body at that riff as my hands form rigid devil horns and my head bangs with a certain seriousness that is surreal. I love this song more than I should.

“Despised” is the proceeding track with another power metal vibe that is (dare I say) epic and triumphant. The chorus is really fun and anthematic again (I mean, don’t you just want to yell “Fuck this place” with the band?). Once more, every drum fill is perfectly planned and executed, as if the drummer went through such lengths as to plan every single hit, one by one, until the beyond amazing drum track was accomplished. I am also a particular fan of the vocal rhythms on this track as they are smooth and interesting.

The final two songs are beautifully composed to sound (in my opinion) like the final struggle or fight, followed by the victorious yet devastating aftermath of surviving the ordeal of absolutely mind-melting melodic and technical thrash metal beast of an album. “Shackles” starts with this heavy, tight, and eerie chug that gives way to undeniably crazy thrash. Even some sexy drum grooves are provided along the way. These guitar parts also give some shred and a hint of symphonic chords. The solo is also very clean and well-devised that leads into a tremendously slow, melodic and low breakdown that is really quite unexpected.

When this fades, “The Path” begins with another classical sounding acoustic piece. It is calming and intriguing, into these powerful electric guitar harmonies that take your breath away. This transitions into a nasty fast fill and thrash riff that is a monster, giving the feeling that the story is NOT over yet. It is devastating when the half time jam with a bit of GROOVY SWING BEATS and SLICK BASS SOLOS. Incredibly written and is definitely the utmost best possible ending to the album.

I absolutely have the utmost respect for this album. There’s really not a lot more to it. Buy it, stream it, show your friends. Battlecross has done it again with a beyond satisfactory release, and now I’m curious as to which songs they’ll play live from this. None of them really stand out as singles to me since they are all fun and unique in their own way (but those last two songs would be phenomenal to hear live).

Rate: 9.5/10

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