Tony Asta and Hiran Deraniyagala, both out of the Midwest US in Canton, MI, started writing music for their band, Battlecross, back in 2003. They have gone through a few musical and multiple line-up changes in the years leading up to their most recent album, ‘Rise to Power’. Currently, the band is a formation of five that includes Don Slater on bass, Kyle “Gumby” Gunther on vocals and, most recently, the addition of Alex Bent on drums. Battlecross makes no bones about their style as it plainly comes across as a wonderful hybrid of melodic-death and thrash. Just in the years leading up to ‘Rise to Power’ being recorded and released, they toured with Amon Amarth, Killswitch Engage and even opened for GWAR! Having listened to their 2015 offering a few times, I’m pleased to report that they are building on their legacy with face melting thrash that will crush your soul, spit in your face and make you wish for a second round!
Let’s take a look at the batch of songs available in this release. Right from the start, you get a feeling that Battlecross intend on showing off their skills with incredibly creative guitar solos, beautiful mixes of harmony, with ear bleeding thrash. ‘Scars’ has the right kind of wake up needed to continue onward through this album. It gives you a taste of the speed and edginess that this release contains from each side of the spectrum, while still being very different from the rest of the tracks. ‘Not Your Slave’ comes afterward, with a change of pace that has a very interesting mix of screams and chanting roars. It also does a great job of speeding up and slowing down to keep you on your toes with each corner it seems to go down. ‘Absense’ starts off with a very speedy, yet wonderful, harmonic guitar riff that is yet another welcome changeup from the tracks preceding it. This seems to be a theme here, as no two back-to-back tracks come across like cookie cutter tunes, while still keeping a nice flow between them.
After that, we’re given ‘Spoiled’ and, well, here it is. Before completely spoiling everything, I have to say this track comes at you instantly with a nice speedy rock riff. Nothing overly complicated, and it has a nice build into the opening lyrics, then quickly jaunts you into the chorus. The track is little over 3 minutes in length and, I have to say, it’s probably one of the best single songs I’ve heard in all of 2015. I absolutely love it. Wonderful solo, terrific blend of harmony and speed that you get so rarely. It all comes together SO organically and unforced. EVERY time I listen to it, I have it repeat again so I get a full 6 minutes of ecstasy. Like, honestly - if every song could be this amazing. This track gets a 10/10.
Does it matter what comes next? Well, of course it does, but how to follow it up. The track ‘The Climb’ comes next and holy shit does it deliver with a blood-curdling roaring chorus that absolutely rivets the senses. It’s an excellent follow up with great progressive changes that I always enjoy. ‘Blood and Lies’ starts off with an acoustic guitar intro. Thankfully, it drops the sweet act and quickly kicks things in gear with nicely done complicated and melodic riffs. I’ve mentioned it prior, but I’m really digging the flow from track to track with each track really sticking out from the next. ‘Bound by Fear’ has an excellent amount of chant-worthy lyrics that I constantly find myself howling along with. Another terrific speedy track that changes things up.
‘Despised’ comes at you with a soft fade in from black that contains the same excellent screams and whispers harmony from earlier tracks, but digs deep into thrash history to bring forth a sound that triggers memories of fantastical thrash acts such as Testament and Kreator! ‘Shackles’ and ‘The Path’ bring this album to a close with a serving of terrific break neck speeds along with more excellent duelling guitars that I really found creative! ‘The Path’ feels like a terrific ending to a film through sound that really cannot be explained through words on a screen. I think it’s one of three absolute killer tracks on this album that I would put up against any thrash acts from history! I can’t wait to go back and re-listen to Battlecross’ earlier works and look forward to hearing more from them in the future! Highly recommended!
RISE TO POWER
Review by Joshua Jaeger
21st August 2015
2) Not Your Slave
5) The Climb
6) Blood & Lies
7) Bound by Fear
10) The Path
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...face melting thrash that will crush your soul, spit in your face and make you wish for a second round!"