Battlerage - Battlefield belongs to me 3/5

Reviewed: 11-9-07


1. Cimmeria
2. The wargods return
3. In blood you'll pay
4. Disciples of the horned skull
5. Heavy metal breakdown
6. By steel I reign supreme
7. From the deepest hell
8. Heavy metal axe
9. Dark arrival of powers malign
10. The battle slain
11. Held high the chaos sword

Hailing from the somewhat unlikely environs of Chile, Battlerage made a positive impression with their debut CD, 'Steel supremacy', in 2004. Proudly flying the flag for true heavy metal, 'Steel supremacy' was the sort of cult, niche release that might appeal to underground, bullet-belted maniacs whose favorite bands include Manilla Road, Ironsword, Battleroar, Sacred Steel, Grave Digger, and the like. Epic and aggressive, generally uptempo and pounding, and laden with battle-ready, metal-is-the-message lyrics, Battlerage's style is pure and true to the core. I rated 'Steel supremacy' a 3.5/5, marking them down only because of the limited, semi-barked vocals of Fox-Lin Torres and the perhaps slightly unrefined songwriting style of chief writer, drummer Francisco Vera. Still, 'Steel supremacy' is recommended to the true metal legions with a hankering for something obscure, cult and pure.

Unbeknownst to me, however, Battlerage released a follow-up CD in 2005, promisingly entitled 'Battlefield belongs to me'. Fortunately, our intrepid Site Manager tracked down a copy and asked me to review it. This is a very interesting CD because, while it is certainly classified as a full-length with a running time of 49 minutes, it does not flow like a freestanding CD would. Rather, what Battlerage have done here is record 3 brand-new songs, plus an intro, along with a cover version of Grave Digger's signature cut, "Heavy metal breakdown". To pad out the length of the recording, Battlerage tack on 3 outtake demo songs (of which only one, the superb "Heavy metal axe", appeared on 'Steel supremacy', albeit in different form), plus 3 additional live recordings from 2003 and 2004 of previously unreleased tracks. The result of this somewhat cobbled-together tracklist is that 'Battlefield belongs to me' feels a bit more like an odds'n'sods gap filler than a proper CD; however, because almost all of the songs are previously unreleased in any form, the content will be of interest to fans of 'Steel supremacy'.

Perhaps the most efficient way to discuss this CD is to describe each category of material presented. The new songs that comprise tracks 1-4 (including intro) are outstanding true metal crushers that equal or exceed the best songs on 'Steel supremacy', so these tracks are sufficient to justify this CD's existence all by themselves (especially the menacing, midtempo, marching-to-war cadence of "Disciples of the horned skull", which may represent Vera's most mature songwriting effort to date). The Grave Digger cover is straight-up, by-the-numbers, and absolutely fun. Understandably, the recording quality takes a dip on the remainder of the CD, which consists of demo and live tracks. The unreleased demos are good, but a notch down in quality from the preceding tracks (particularly because the vocals are often mixed way too high on the demos, and Torres is not the band's strongest suit), except of course for the fine "Heavy metal axe", which will be familiar to 'Steel supremacy' fans. As for the live songs, the recording quality is predictably dodgy and these songs are by far the most difficult to listen to on the CD, although there are still some redeeming moments.

As an underground South American true metal act, Battlerage almost certainly lack the luxury of decent recording budgets. Still, I would have preferred to see them take the time and spend the money to re-record the demo and live tracks properly for this CD or (even better) wait until Vera had penned a full complement of new songs before releasing 'Battlefield belongs to me'. The upshot is that this CD is worth checking out (assuming you can find it) for fans of 'Steel supremacy' or cult true metal generally, with the substantial caveat that the songs and recording quality are uneven, with the strongest tracks definitely bunched together at the front of the CD. Here's hoping that Battlerage persevere and unleash a brand-new full-length CD soon. Now that they are battle-hardened veterans of the metal wars, I am confident that Battlerage can elevate their game by several notches with their next offering.




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