Album War of Will
Year Released: 9 July 2013
Label Metal Blade Records Genre Thrash Metal, Melodic Death Metal
You know what? I’ve been sitting on this damn Battlecross album with the intention of reviewing it for far too long — and I’m pissed about it. So here’s your bloody review of Battlecross’ War of Will: It kicks fracken ass! Get it. That’s it. I’m out.
What makes it difficult to review this album is that it’s perfect in so many ways, yet it’s not, and I can’t tell you what the imperfections are. So, I’m left to think that it’s my own biases against certain sounds that I don’t particularly love, but know are good.
What Battlecross does on War of Will, however, is blend seamlessly old-school thrash and NWOBHM with modern metal elements, such as those found with In Flames and Arch Enemy. In the end, Battlecross mutes anyone who claims that American metal is dead and buried.
War of Will features great sound quality, great mixing, and great performances, and Battlecross has expertly blended screaming solos, dueling guitars, blast beats, fills, chugging riffs, growls, screams, and more without beating the listener over the head with any element. As a bonus, the album’s lyrical content is very positive and uplifting.
War of Will opens with the energetic and thrashy “Force Fed Lies.” It’s the perfect example of everything I just said above. It’s the type of song that people identify a band by.
Next is “Flesh & Bone,” which continues “Force Fed Lies” like it’s a sequel. Lot’s of chugging, heavy bass lines, and an addictive galloping solo melody. About halfway through there’s a solid breakdown followed by a quick little guitar solo. And we’re treated to some nice use of splash cymbals on the way out.
“Never Coming Back” takes things up a notch, amplifying everything we’ve heard on the album up till this point. As such, it has the most solid set of guitar solos and the most intense drumming and seemingly the angriest lyrics yet.
That intensity is followed by the much slower-paced intro of “My Vaccine.” Don’t worry, the mellowship doesn’t last very long.
Clearly, War of Will has a solid formula that it’s working under; a building intensity that’s broken at the right moment. Whether that was done deliberately or not by the band or if it was expertly crafted by producers Eyal Levi and Mark Lewis will have to remain a mystery at this point. However it came to be, it’s impressively accomplished on this third album from Battlecross.
“Get Over It” brings things back up to pace, and it’s the album’s “drum song.” Session drummer, Shannon Lucas (The Black Dahlia Murder and All That Remains), is given the opportunity to showcase his skills here, making excellent use of crash cymbals, ride cymbals, signature changes, rolling fills, and some of that half time shit. And of course, there are some powerful lyrics going on here too: “It’s time to wake up and listen; I will not stand for your lies; No longer be your pawn; You’re a worthless cunt; A plague unto society.”
“Ghost Alive” is the thrashiest track at this point of the album. If you’re a fan of Death Angel, Exodus, and the like, you’re gonna love this.
The pace gets slowed once again with the intro of “Wage of War.” Actually, the intro riff is so familiar, but I can’t place it. Again, this is a very thrash-oriented track, but mixed with a lot of that Swedish melodic sound that I personally love. And any song with lyrics like this one has is impossible to dislike: “Stand on your own wage your war; You must prove yourself; Fight back hold your ground; Stand on your own and test your strength.”
If In Flames were to have a love child with Amon Amarth, that offspring might sound like “The Will to Overcome.” If you can pull your ear away from the compelling vocal melody, I think you’ll find some great and somewhat complex songwriting behind this track.
“Beast” is another angry song. It’s full of groove and at times borders on a folk-type of metal. It’s actually one of the songs I get excited to hear when I put the album on, not because of the folk-y influence, if there is any, but because it’s so aggressive.
Finally, there’s “Never Ending Night,” which is a hard-hitting, full-throttle metal assault. A perfect way to close out a great album.
Rock Hard \m/
Three albums in, and Battlecross damn near have their masterpiece. War of Will is definitely one of the better albums from a lesser-known band to come out this year. If you don’t go out and purchase it yourself, at the very least ask for it for Christmas. From production value to musicianship to songwriting to lyrics, this is such a fantastic album, and one that deserves to dominate your sound system.