Battleroar – Blood Of Legends

April 21, 2014 in Reviews by Chris Foley

Battleroar - Blood Of LegendsBattleroar – The Blood Of Legends (2014)

Reviewed by Christopher Foley

In certain pockets of the metal underground, the Greek heavy metal champions Battleroar have something of a godly reputation. Of course, many probably wouldn’t know Battleroar or their crowing achievement To Death And Beyond… if it smacked them in the face. Whilst I can’t say I’ve coveted this band, its iron-clad brand of riff heavy, no frills power metal is one that’s ensured a good deal of enjoyment on my behalf – especially in the case of the aforementioned crowning opus. Since then, the band has undergone considerable change, mainly so in the vocal department, although half of the band members are relatively new to the fold. As such, Battleroar’s fourth full-length, Blood Of Legends, prior to any form of engagement, carries a considerable weight of expectation for previously established fans, as well as flying a banner set to entice the uninitiated. Boy, oh boy, is it a magnificent, emblazoned one.

Two main factors set this album apart from prior Battleroar output, the most obvious of which new vocalist Gerrit Mutz. You may well recognize the guy from a host of other acts, most notably Sacred Steel, although I liked him best with Tragedy Divine. If you haven’t heard Sacred Steel or any of Mutz’ other bands before, then know that his approach was largely – though, not exclusively – shrill and shrieked (think Warrel Dane a là Sanctuary mixed in with some slight Kai Hansen brand helium), something which was a cause for concern amongst stalwart Battleroar fans; as his style of vocals didn’t seem right for Battleroar. Fortunately, Gerrit delivers a strong, powerful mid-ranged approach which completely fits the music and should quell any sense of apprehension nigh on immediately – I’m seriously impressed with how well he nails it.

The second factor, and the one I feel truly sets Battleroar apart from the many bands playing a similar style here, is the inclusion of violins. They’re ridiculously well incorporated and do a magical job in creating atmosphere, drama, and in the case of “Poisoned Well”, an almost romantic air. Coupled with the imagery adorning the cover of Blood Of Legends, as well as the lyrics – hell the music itself – they create what I’d class as a fairly unique experience. Don’t be fooled into thinking any level of power or heaviness has been sacrificed, though.

Nah, Battleroar still rips. In fact, they rip throughout the album’s neat hour run-time, be it in upfront head-bangers such as “The Swords Are Drawn” or in daring epics such as “Valkyries Above Us”, which would bring the guillotine down on countless overblown, overproduced symphonic “epics”. Throughout the album Battleroar delivers on every level, from riffs conjured through the spirit of greats like Manilla Road and Fates Warning, to a sense of dynamic recalling the finer songwriters in the genre, be it Steve Harris or Leif Edling.

While the appeal may well bear strongest to those who throw around phrases like “true metal” or look towards the more traditional, riff-oriented bands for enjoyment, Battleroar certainly isn’t without appeal to the European crowd. The sense of melody is without a doubt drawn from Iron Maiden, and at times teeters on the edge of Helloween territory. The inclusion of violins might be enough to sate the appetites of those with fond memories of Galloglass and the like, and finally, I think the dramatic, grandiose songwriting coupled with some opportune choir vocals might even catch the ear of those who enjoy nineties-era Blind Guardian.

From any perspective, this is some seriously cool metal. If I’m being honest, I think it’s worth checking out regardless of preference (unless you refuse to venture outside of the extreme, in which case, what are you doing on this site in the first place?). The album creates its own identity via the coupling of wonderfully executed violin and stunning heavy metal, twisting and turning; ultimately creating a bold, fantastical statement which is absolutely on the money. I wasn’t sure about this one going in, but I’ve come out the other side gushing superlative. That I can listen to this on repeat for a few hours speaks volumes, and I think each time it gets a little better. One of those “take you to another world” type of albums, if you will. If anything I’ve said interests you, then just buy without reservation. That goes double for fans of Atlantean Kodex, classic Fates Warning, Manilla Road, Doomsword, you know the drill.

4.25 // 5