Few bands of the new generation of American extreme metal have been as consistent and impressive as Michigan upstarts, Battlecross. This month the band returns with its fourth slab of blue-collar thrash, or whatever you prefer to call it, in the form of Rise to Power. This marks the band’s third album for Metal Blade Records and the first to feature new drummer Alex Bent.
With Rise to Power, Battlecross continue to demonstrate growth and confidence in their songwriting, and it shows in their ascension up the ranks of metal’s most promising talents. The band tapped the Audiohammer Studios duo of Jason Suecoff (Trivium, Job for a Cowboy, DevilDriver) to produce and Mark Lewis (The Black Dahlia Murder, Whitechapel, Kataklysm) to mix and master. As usual, the two did an outstanding job.
The brutality begins with the driving onslaught of “Scars”, with newcomer Bent hammering away beneath the deluge of Kyle “Gumby” Gunther’s corrosive vocal attack. Despite the immense ferocity of the track, guitarists and band co-founders Tony Asta and Hiran Deraniyagala manage to infuse a good dose of melody with their fretwork; a trait that thankfully permeates the entire record.
“Not Your Slave” is the first taste fans got from the new record, and it features the beefy trademark grooves and aggressive assault Battlecross is quickly becoming known for. There are more than a few hints of bands like Slayer and Lamb of God peppered across the record’s 10 tracks, but only as a measure of influence and not replication.
The band has just released a video for “Absence” which opens with a military drum strike before Bent propels the song forward like an enraged bull. Gunther howls and growls, as bassist Don Slater rumbles along.
The band charges out with old school thrashiness on”Spoiled”, a chugging juggernaut with guitars and drums hammering away like a hatchet to the skull. Here again, Asta and Deraniyagala prime the twin guitar pump to spiraling heights.
“The Climb” is fast and weighty with blast beats and breakdowns, while “Blood & Lies” opens with a moody little interlude and closes out in doomish fashion. “Bound By Fear” is a stand out track with its punchy rhythms and addictive riffing. Slater quietly sets the groove here and Bent’s footwork on the pedals is outstanding.
Battlecross dip back into their roots for the album closer, “The Path”. A particularly engaging track to bring down the curtain. The song recalls the early-80s Bay Area thrash sound as a foundation for Gunther’s caustic yowling.
The appropriately titled Rise to Power finds Battlecross on top of their game, delivering a record that is equal parts aggression and melody, bludgeoning heaviness and ass-kicking hooks. Asta and Deraniyagala’s guitar pyrotechnics are simply infectious. Rise to Power is statement album for Battlecross: The band has planted its flag and its ready for war. They may get bloody, but they will stand their ground.
Rise to Power is available August 21, 2015. Catch Battlecross on tour this fall and winter with GWAR.