Battle Beast‘s Anton Kabanen is back with vengeance, and a new-ish kind of beast. We take a look at its debut album Berserker.
In 2015, just when they were really hitting their stride and playing larger venues than ever, guitarist and lead songwriter Anton Kabanen was fired from his own band, Battle Beast. And when that same band released Bringer of Pain earlier this year, it was immediately and painfully obvious where things were headed musically. With more emphasis on Noora Louhimo’s vocals, an added layer of keyboards and the metallic aspect dialed back in favour of a more eighties’ rock vibe, I could not help but be disappointed. Where did the power, the metal and most importantly, the catchy songwriting go? The answer was simple: it left together with Kabanen.
So as a fan of the first three Battle Beast albums, I was stoked when I heard he had formed a new band, Beast in Black, and would return with a new album, Berserker. With cover artwork once again done by Roman Ismailov and a host of references to Kentaro Miura’s renowned Berserk manga, you can take one look at the sleeve and know exactly what you can expect. Even the band logo is in the same style. Beast in Black is Battle Beast 2.0, and I for can’t complain about that. The musical and lyrical style is exactly the same, and if you wouldn’t know better, you’d think that this is the logical fourth album that should have followed Unholy Saviour.
As soon as Yannis Papadopoulos (Wardrum) opens his mouth to scream “Berseeeerkeeeeer!” on the opening track Beast in Black, you know exactly what you’re in for. Old-fashioned heavy metal with pounding double bass drums, a vocalist who screams, roars and yells his way through ten or twelve songs (depending on whether you buy the digipak edition for the bonus tracks or not) and a layer of keyboard cheese. If you enjoyed any of the first three Battle Beast albums, Berserker will feel very familiar. Like Kabanen’s previous band, Beast in Black strikes a perfect balance between heavy/power metal and keyboard-driven eighties pop-rock. Names like Sabaton and Europe (Born Again!) can and will pop into your head at one point or another.
Berserker lasts fifty minutes, and that’s including the bonus tracks, and in those fifty minutes the band manages to keep the listener interested with an expert mix of songs. There are your typical fast-paced metal tracks like Zodd the Immortal or the title song, there’s a suitably cheesy ballad in the form of closer Ghost in the Rain, you’ve got two synth-driven songs that almost drown in their own pompousness (Blood of a Lion and the wonderfully over the top Eternal Fire). Kabanen still throws everything together and offers a delicious melting pot of styles, all whilst remaining true to his own sound. And like Noora Louhimo and Nitte Valo before him, Papadopoulos is an absolute powerhouse of a vocalist who is instrumental in bringing an overall coherence to wherever the band goes sound-wise, moving from gruff grunts to high-pitched screams in the blink of an eye.
Beneath all the metal, ald the pompous keyboards and all the cheese, you’ll find a ridiculously catchy set of tunes. There isn’t a song on Berserker that won’t lodge itself in your brain after one of two times you’ve listened to it. Kabanen has a definite knack for writing memorable chorus lines and melodies, and although you might have heard it all before, each hook and riff on the album is spot on, and the way it’s all brought is with a confidence that makes it sound easy. Of course, writing this stuff isn’t exactly new to Kabanen, but if there was any doubt at all that Beast in Black would live up to the legacy of Battle Beast, it’s wiped firmly off the table. Berserker is sure to please fans of Battle Beast, Sabaton and the like, and it’s easily one of the more enjoyable power metal albums of the year.
Label: Nuclear Blast
Release: out now
- Beast In Black
- Blind And Frozen
- Blood Of A Lion
- Born Again
- Zodd The Immortal
- The Fifth Angel
- Crazy, Mad, Insane
- Hell For All Eternity (bonus track)
- Eternal Fire
- Go To Hell (bonus track)
- End Of The World
- Ghost In The Rain
- Yannis Papadopoulos – vocals
- Anton Kabanen – guitar, vocals
- Kasperi Heikkinen – guitar
- Máté Molnar – bass
- Sami Hänninen – drums
Pingback: Album Year Lists (2017) | soundsfromthedarkside