Battlecross – War Of Will

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Review by Jason Guest

Metal Blade

Album number two from Battlecross had a challenge on its hands before the first note of the writing/recording sessions for it was struck. Their 2011 Metal Blade debut, Pursuit of Honor, was a beast of an album that brought the band much well-deserved attention, allowed them to undergo extensive tours through 2012 and got them hand-picked by James Hetfield for Metallica’s Orion Music + More Festival. Like Pursuit of Honour, War of Will is an unstoppable animal brimming in energy and rammed with technically-impressive thrash goodies. Ferocious throughout, Battlecross further develop their blend of American and European metal by juxtaposing the melodic with the aggressive for another album that should see them get more of the recognition that they deserve.

With opener ‘Force Fed Lies’ blasting out the gates, the European and American influences are on full display as they chop between the melodic and the all-out savagery of thrash and cut in a shredding lead break. A solid opener, this picks up where the band left us in 2011 and so it’s with ‘Flesh & Bone’ that we get the first sighting of the Battlecross of 2013. After a melodic Euro-style intro, the death/thrash grooves flood in and their technical and hyperactive riffs come to the fore with the impressive harmony guitars in the prog-ish middle section and the lead work being perfectly balanced between technique and melody very well. This is also where Shannon Lucas’s (ex-The Balck Dahlia Murder) drum-work begins to shape the music, his lines working well to complement and augment the track. From here on in, it’s a mass of intricate drum patterns, hook-laced riffs, well-executed and well-placed harmony guitar passages, shredding and melodic leads, and deep and dark technical thrash grooves.

From the thrash grooves of ‘My Vaccine’ through the assertive ‘Get Over It’ and into ‘Ghost Alive’, the band assert their identity through their highly skilled technical and complex approach. By ‘Wage of War’ however, it feels as if wolf-man vocalist Kyle Gunther is in direct competition with the band. An accomplished vocalist, his death grunts and high-pitched screech are earth-shattering, but there are more than a few times when he dominates the track, sometimes overshadowing the musicians instead of standing back and letting them do the work and giving the track room to breathe (such as he does in ‘Get Over It’). Musically, Battlecross are watertight. Guitarists Hiran Deraniyagala and Tony Asta work incredibly well together, their riffs, leads, and particularly their harmony parts are remarkable. As on Pursuit of Honor, bassist Don Slater refuses to be relegated to being simply one half of the rhythm section and steps forward to augment each track with his own unique voice. And together, they never once sacrifice the track or their musicality for technique or ego.

With self-assertive, stand-up-and-fight lyrics compounding the pounding, with Battlecross, everything is on the surface and War of Will’s direct affirmative action is all the more potent for it. An impressive follow-up to Pursuit of Honor, whatever fears the band may have had about that “tricky second album” can be laid to rest.

Battlecross - War Of Will8 out of 10

Read our interview with guitarist Hiran Deraniyagala here

Track listing:

  1. Force Fed Lies
  2. Flesh & Bone
  3. Never Coming Back
  4. My Vaccine
  5. Get Over It
  6. Ghost Alive
  7. Wage A War
  8. The Will To Overcome
  9. Beast
  10. Never-Ending Night