Battleroar - Age of chaos 4/5

Reviewed: 11-18-05





Tracklist:

1. The wonderer
2. Vampire killer
3. Siegecraft
4. The tower of the elephant
5. Deep buried faith
6. Dyvim tvar
7. Sword of crom
8. Narsil (reforge the sword)
9. Calm before the storm
10. Dreams on steel


The affinity of the Greek populace for epic, true metal is well documented. Indeed, the likes of Manilla Road, Omen, Jag Panzer and Domine are hailed as conquering heroes on the streets of Athens and Thessaloniki. Notwithstanding their unassailable zeal for all things true metal, the Greeks have historically been less successful in forging their own brand of iron glory, plagued by basement-level productions and subpar vocalists. However, the winds of change blow strong from the Mediterranean, as the musicians of Hellas have honed their craft and sharpened their steel. Today, acts like Elwing, Bloodstained, Airged L'amh, Marauder and Casus Belli are raising the bar and putting Greece on the metal map in a big way.

With their sophomore CD, 'Age of chaos', Battleroar make a compelling statement that their rightful place lies at the head of the Greek assault. These purveyors of epic true metal have equaled or exceeded their impressive self-titled debut CD in every department, from songwriting to production to performances. (Okay, that's not quite true. I do prefer the cartoonish battle scene cover artwork of the debut to the blood-and-guts depiction on the new CD.) Simply put, 'Age of chaos' delivers everything that a fan of the genre could want.

The soothing, gentle 4-minute acoustic intro song, beautifully sung by Manilla Road's Mark Shelton, sets the calm-before-the-storm mood perfectly, before giving way to the high-octane, galloping "Vampire killer", probably the most aggressive song penned by Battleroar to date. The remainder of the CD settles into a comfortable midtempo, battle-ready stomp, occupying the same sonic space as Wotan, Domine, Doomsword, and perhaps 'Into glory ride'-era Manowar. The superb riffing of guitarists Manolis Karazeris and Kostas Tzortzis oozes true metal feeling and class at all times, while the rhythm section continually brings the thunder and Marco Concoreggi competently supplies impassioned clear vocals, albeit with a limited range that some may find offputting. My favorite song is the dazzling, instantly catchy "Sword of crom", which offers up a refreshing twist on the old "No place for disgrace" intro guitar theme and melds captivating melodies and punishing rhythms a la Amon Amarth gone true metal. Honorable mention goes to the 8-minute "Dyvim Tvar", which musically conjures the same marching-off-to-war cadence as the Manowar classics "Battle hymn" and "Blood of my enemies", and also to the 9-minute "Calm before the storm", which runs the gamut from midtempo plod to acoustic guitars and violins to a battle-drums-and-horns section to a full-on speed blitzkrieg at the end. The CD comes full circle with the acoustic closing track, "Dreams on steel".

Great songs aside, I'm thrilled to report that Black Lotus Records and Battleroar have gone the extra mile to make this release a truly special package. In addition to the Mark Shelton guest spot, drummer extraordinaire Mark Cross (ex-Metalium, ex-Helloween) expertly handled the drum engineering and production to achieve perhaps the best drum sound on any Greek metal CD. The production values as a whole are quite laudable, as Battleroar obliterate the stereotype about Greek metal bands being incapable of achieving high-quality recordings. As an added enticement, 'Age of chaos' is bundled with a DVD bonus disc, including studio footage, live recordings, and band interviews. The video material may not be riveting or spectacular, but band and label are to be applauded for undertaking the initiative and investment to bring the band closer to their fans worldwide. 'Age of chaos' is definitely not for everybody, but if you worship at the throne of early Manowar, if you agree that Domine and Wotan are brilliant, and if you've always wanted to attend the Keep It True festival in Germany, then 'Age of chaos' should be a blind buy.



KIT




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