Recently I purchased this bands debut album “Pursuit Of Honor” and was thoroughly satisfied with their brand of screaming thrash with tons of groove and top end making it a weighty release. My anticipation of this sophomore effort was high as I expected more of the same but with an improved production and that is more or less what I got as the album bursts into life with “Force Fed Lies”, a chunky power grooving thrash onslaught with harmonising guitar work in places and a well paced riff that easily embeds into the mind, with headbanging ease. In recent years modernised thrash suffers from a lack of charisma within the vocals and Battlecross fall into this category due to the overt screaming vocal tirade that is paraded throughout the songs alongside sporadic growling thunder. Now I’m not one to turn my nose up at extreme vocal styles but when the song writing begs for something a little cleaner and maybe more accessible then it feels criminal not to exploit it, especially on the supremely catchy “Flesh & Bone” which boasts some Annihilator like guitar shredding.
“Never Coming Back” has 3 Inches Of Blood stamped all over it, with a vicious riffing style that is potently harmonious and melodic in equal salvos and matching the odd blast that is inserted. Some of the guitar work is exquisite with each riff leading from the front like a colonel commanding forth an army of breathtaking fret acrobatics. Imagining what an album might sound like with a different singer is not easy and I can quite understand the vocal styles used but I really do feel some variation would have added so much depth to this album so that instead of being a very good it would have been brilliant.
There are some huge modern tendencies on this album, such as “My Vaccine” which harnesses the guitar playing prowess into a copiously catchy metal tune, a facet that pops up with regularity such as with the blindingly good riff that starts “Ghost Alive” with accompanying cymbal smash for added power and emphasis. Comparable to our very own but now sadly defunct Anterior this US act has the skill and technical dexterity to go a very long way but to open to a wider audience then I would really recommend an amendment to the vocals as they are overly aggressive when the music isn’t really that fierce, but it’s still a damn fine slab of metal and one that you should check out pronto.
(7.5/10 Martin Harris)