The album title for this fourth full length is a bold statement but typifies a band whose learning curve has been short but hectic in drawing in new listeners. Having loosely followed the band for about four years their brand of modernised thrash metal sits fairly snugly between the melodic side of thrash and the featherweight borders of death metal due to the drum work mainly.
This fourth album follows the previous effort “War Of Will” smoothly with a few tweaks here and there to capture a more vibrant and distinctly sharper approach that bursts into life with “Scars”. Aggressive vocals akin to gargling a mouthful of barbed wire are balanced by some deftly melodic and harmonious guitar work complete with excellent lead breaks. There are similarities to a lot of heavy weight global acts such as Arch Enemy and Children Of Bodom to name a few of the recognisable names but also 3 Inches Of Blood, Bloodshot Dawn and maybe even a touch of Lamb Of God for the bouncy style and barraging vocal delivery.
One thing that Battlecross do exceptionally well is write tunes with a solid structure where each aspect flows slickly allowing “Not Your Slave” to have plenty of elements but fused together with no audible clumsiness. Keeping the songs short enables the album to feel energetic and punchy that continues with “Absence” and boasts a sporadic blast or two for added power and impact but if I’m honest I’d have preferred them not to be there as they protrude from some of the songs rather abruptly. “Spoiled” has a very heavy metal lead that wouldn’t be too far amiss off an Accept album and that is meant as a huge compliment. The wildly flailing lead breaks offer tendrils of subtlety that a lot of newer modern thrash acts fail to incorporate thinking thrash is all about rampaging speed which it is not.
The rather serene acoustic start of “Blood & Lies” stands as a pinnacle within the album, gazing beyond the confines of thrash before base jumping into a scything riff and double kick that cushions the descent rhythmically and with copious melody. I did think that the overtly dominating screamed vocal style whilst favoured by the young thrash contingent would benefit from toning them down and adding some cleaner aspects but that is just my personal choice and not a criticism of the style per se. Since the previous effort it is patently clear that the playing ability has multiplied substantially as the new drummer hallmarks the release with a highly industrious performance. “Despised” has a wonderful harmony lead fade in before breaking ranks and it is here that I namedrop Arch Enemy as the tone and playing has tenets of the maestro Amott himself and even on the softer side of the leads one could name check Gus G as well.
With so many acts like this worldwide Battlecross have an unenviable task of getting recognised but with a fourth album of undoubted talent and song writing prowess then that gateway will soon be surpassed and we’ll be hearing much more of Battlecross in the future.
(8/10 Martin Harris)