Although they have been around since the early part of the Noughties, Michigan mosh starters Battlecross did not really make an impression until the mighty Metal Blade Records picked them up and released their first “proper” album, ‘Pursuit Of Honor’, in the latter half of 2011. Relentless touring – including their debut UK appearances last year in support of Killswitch Engage – and a stunning follow up album, ‘War Of Will’, established their reputation as one of the freshest and most exciting new generation of thrash acts emanating from the northern American subcontinent.
Now, ‘Rise To Power’ not only cements that just mentioned estimation but seems destined to live up to its title, and catapult Battlecross up the ranks of the thrash metal elite faster than the speed of their riffs and double drum kicks. Grounded very much in the old-school, pioneering tradition of early Metallica, Exodus and suchlike, ‘Rise To Power’ – like all really good thrash albums – does not concentrate, however, on pure out-and-speed and zillion-notes-a-second riffology to get its message across. It is also filled to the brim with melodies aplenty, and utilizes light and shade to superb effect: ‘Blood & Lies’, for example, is built around a dense acoustic harmony, while Kyle Gunther’s vocals employ the full breadth of his range, from growls emanating from the upper end of the spectrum to effectively restrained clean sounds where they are needed.
The twin guitar attack of Hiran Deranlyagala and Tony Asta combine the right elements of power and passion, hitting the aforementioned zillion-note riffs with aplomb while at the same time not afraid to ease back and push the darker, more melodic elements to the fore – often on the same song (see the stunning ‘Shackles’ as a prime example of this), while Don Slater and Alex Bent equally deliver massive walls of noise combined fluidly with subtle textures.
‘Rise To Power’ is an album that will please the most diehard of thrash fans. Those who, like myself, like their riffs with still fresh blood on the guitarists’ callouses but always played with subtlety and massive technical ability. This possesses all of those elements aplenty, and is a thoroughly accomplished and exciting exemplar of the genre. Buy it. Now.
Scars / Not Your Slave / Absence / Spoiled / The Climb / Blood & Lies / Bound By Fear / Despised / Shackles / The Path / War Ensemble (bonus track)
Recommended listening: Blood & Lies / Shackles
‘Rise To Power’ is out now on Metal Blade.