Possibly one of the most happening bands in Europe at the moment, Finnish metal horde Battle Beast continue their campaign for world domination in the melodic metal market by unveiling their fourth album some two years after the excellent “Unholy Saviour”. With copious touring escapades Battle Beast are one of the best live acts around as well making this new material ever more critical as the band embarks on another bout of gigs with the UK dates impending as I write. The loss of their main song writer Anton Kabanen during the last touring cycle is one that fans of the band will have had some consternations about, but he has been ably replaced by Joona Björkroth who has become a permanent member.

The moment “Straight To The Heart” bursts in the bands keyboard drenched hallmark is firmly intact as the album contains song after song of highly contagious songs that sees the band smooth out some of their harsher elements into one satin sheet of blissful heavy metal. Noora’s vocals have never sounded better and her tone and delivery surely make her one of the best metal vocalists in the world. She stamps her authority on the album from the start as each song carves out one catchy riff after another with soaring brilliance.

The title track is purist heavy metal and has an 80s bombastic atmosphere as the song utilises a double bass run to great effect and in a very Judas Priest like poise. Euro metal of this style often gets bad press for being clichéd and occasionally over the top, but for me that is its strength, honing the bands ingrained catchiness into the ten songs that will have you humming, singing and yearning to hear them live. As with the other albums the band isn’t afraid to slow things down as “King For A Day” proves with its pumping metronomic beat coupled to a flood of keyboards creating a cinematic ethos.

Starting with a sample “Familiar Hell” is a stomping anthem funnelling its charismatic energy via the seething riffing and fist pumping drums. The chorus break is excellent and as always easy to remember so you can be ready for the live shows. “Lost In Wars” is a favourite for me being more involved and massively symphonic with a saturating keyboard backdrop and theatrical approach. As the vocals arrive Noora packs emotion and power into every fibre of the song to spectacular effect. Continuing the flair for the dramatic is “Bastard Son Of Odin” which builds quickly to an infectious keyboard melody that owes plenty to the 1980s but without the cheese and overtly synthetic production as this is wholesome, heavy metal weaned on a high fibre sonic diet.

The most surprising, and possibly shocking for some, is “Dancing With The Beast” which emerges via a very melodic keyboard section and choral vocal line that gives way for a pulsing kick beat that has a prominent pop metal feel. A friend of mine said it sounded like Lady Gaga gone metal which to some extent is true but it’s still a fine song, just different, as the album closes on familiar territory with “Far From Heaven” which starts in ballad strains initially as Noora unleashes a heartfelt vocal line and steady beat. The vocal line soars to dizzying heights allowing the music to waft over the listener like a silken banner decorated with fine lead breaks and well placed drum fills.

This fourth album marks the start of a new era for the band and I would stake highly that this band will become massive in years to become so I’ll be catching them on their upcoming tour before that happens and I advise you to do the same as this album is a scorcher.

(9/10 Martin Harris)