Battle Beast - "No More Hollywood Endings"
March 22nd will see the release of “No More Hollywood Endings” the fifth full-length album by Finland’s Battle Beast, who I can only hope are named after the lesser known eighties toys, mostly because that’s the only icebreaker joke I can think to make in conjunction with this run-on sentence.
When I was first asked to write the review, I jumped at the chance, mostly because I was casually familiar with some of their work off of their 2013 self-titled album. After a quick refamiliarization with past works, I was ready to be engrossed in power metal once again.
Usually power metal is not my preferred genre, despite the fact that I am a sucker for syncopated rhythms and melodies from guitar riffs. I’ve had friends repeatedly introduce me to the stylings of bands in the genre, but have yet to have anything take terribly permanent mental hold. That was, admittedly, until this album.
Something in the lyrics of the opening track, dealing with a failed childhood birthday party, took me way back to my own childhood. You see, I had a similar event during the second grade.
Something about that struck an emotional chord with me, and as anyone in writing knows, making your audience care is the most difficult thing to do in the world, and absolutely necessary. Mandatory, even. Although my own failed pizza-party was caused by the unfortunate fact that I was born around spring break, and the protagonist of the song we learn was affected by malicious intent. Very different circumstances surrounding the same event.
And thus I was pulled into active and emotional listening much more readily than I had initially expected to with this album.
The riff-work is damn tasty, a veritable combination of nWoBHM’s penchant for incessantly catchy rhythms combined with a flair of thrash’s speed. And while on prior albums the keyboards have had a Bodom-like synth quality, here they blend much more seamlessly into the music except when taking center stage, such as when they come to life as strings or choral elements, notably on the back-to-back title track and first single “Eden”. I find it odd that the symphonic elements stand out to me most where an actual string section wasn’t used, unlike the opening track “Unbroken.”
Fans of the power metal genre will be pleased, as will those likely looking to dip their toes in toes heavier genre from more radio friendly music. For an album with a title track like “No More Hollywood Endings” I found at least one song, “Piece of Me”, to have struck me as being particularly more in line with hard rock; a strange juxtaposition to have something keyed into (If certainly not toying with the idea of) big-media while also refuting it’s penchant for happy endings. And there is at least one ballad on the album, “Bent and Broken”, a particular kind of song that just rubs me the wrong way. Neither of these should be seen as failings: in case of the former, it takes a lot of hard work and effort to write something that wider audiences will like; and in case of the latter, taste is subjective.
“No More Hollywood Endings” is a hefty album, weighing in at fourteen songs. Frankly, it was certainly a beast to listen to, clocking in just around the hour time-frame, most songs breaking the four minute mark. I find this helps (rather than hinders) the album, with stellar tracks like “The Hero”, “The Golden Horde”, and “Unfairy Tales” outweighing any that bear flaws. Although, admittedly, I did have to give it a second listen through.
At the end of the day, “No More Hollywood Endings” is a solid, well-written, well-produced album that previous fans of Battle Beast will enjoy that may still stink it’s teeth into new fans as well.