To Death And Beyond...
posted on 5/2008 By:
Epic metal in the classic tradition, Greece's Battleroar evokes the heyday of Iron Maiden, Queensryche, Manilla Road, Omen, pre-prog Fates Warning and others. What little I've heard of earlier Battleroar efforts didn't particularly wow me—like so many of their peers, Battleroar fell into the gaping morass of weak power metal cliché; their Euro-styled riffing and operatic vocals seemed under-produced and overdone, offering nothing new to a sound already well-worn. With the shift to Cruz Del Sur, the band picked up either a bigger budget or a few better ideas because, despite a few moments of cheese, To Death And Beyond is a damn fine power metal record.
Battleroar is still derivative, as most power metal bands are, but in the Final Battle Between Good And Boring, songwriting and energy prevail over innovation every time, and Battleroar have those two victors in spades. Tunes like the galloping medieval themes of “Dragonhelm” and the moody acoustic-laden “Finis Mundi” are well-constructed and spirited enough to overcome the staleness of their two-decade-old formula. “Finis” is the first of the album’s two most epic moments, with the dynamic shifts from Queensryche-y gothic melancholy to driving riffs and back again, an approach so nice the band tries it twice, reprising the acoustic folk instrumentation in “Oceans Of Pain.” Vocalist Marco Concoreggi’s voice is edgier, more aggressive than on the samples I’d heard from the two earlier records, although he still treads very close to Geoff Tate territory. Thankfully, he steers clear of the higher-pitched moments that previously mired the band in cheesiness, keeping to a soaring chest voice. (His Italian accent is a little awkward at times, but largely, his voice is strong and clear.) Lyrically, the album displays a Manowar-like fixation upon battles and swords and all the usual stuff, except for the song “Born In The 70s,” which is the album’s lamest moment by leaps and bounds. “We were born in the 70s / we’ve got lightning in our veins / … / we were born in the 70s / we’ve got future in our brains…” Not so good on the lyrical front, that one… Can’t win ‘em all.
With some great power metal albums released in the last few years (Cage’s Hell Destroyer, Pharaoh’s Be Gone, the new Helloween, etc.), Battleroar are up against some stiff competition. I’m not certain To Death And Beyond has the staying power of Hell Destroyer, a record that blew my proverbial socks off, and it’s hard to top Pharaoh, as well. But To Death And Beyond ain’t too shabby neither, kids, no matter how corny it may be. I’d recommend it to any fan of the bands or records I just listed that are still looking for their next traditional power metal fix.
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