Thursday, February 6, 2014

Battery - Armed with Rage

"Hostile, Armed & Genocidal"

Introducing the debut album of Danish thrash band Battery. Oh, and if you're already thinking about it, no they are not named after the Metallica song. Formed in 2008 they have a couple of demos and an EP released prior to this album.

Having known Battery for quite some time, I've also heard most of their material and can kind of reflect on their past releases and put that into my opinion of this album. The production on Armed with Rage is absolutely explicit. The band knows how a metal record should sound in these modern times, and just to clarify, that sound is old school! Every single instrument is well audible just the way they should be, bass players and drummers, you are going to love this record. Actually it doesn't matter what instrument you play, you don't even need to play, this record is something every thrash fan should experience. But be assured of this: the bass and drums sound incredible! The album keeps on going in the highest gear available throughout the most of the record, only to be smashed by the mid paced opening of Vermin of Fukushima, which is one of the best tracks of the album. But it might be hard for the record to grip onto some listeners as it doesn't really slow down that much. I don't really have a problem with that since I know what kind of party I'm attending here. In spite of that I must say Vermin of Fukushima is like a fresh coat of paint and I welcome it, and hope to hear more material like it in the future.  However some traits from their EP Mental Pollution is missing a bit on Armed with Rage. The EP had a little heavier sound and I simply just love the production on it, it's some of the best sounding records in recent years.

So having listened to that EP since it came out of course made me love it and its sound. And that sound has been altered a bit for Armed with Rage, it is more thrashy and raw now, and I had to give the album a few spins to get used to that (note that it's not a bad thing). Something that has been dialled down is the use of gang shouts in their songs, and the ones that does have them are not as powerful as the ones on Mental Pollution. Just listening to the title track from that EP exhibits the amazing sounding gang shouts which is some of the best I've heard on a record since the classics from the 80's! That brings me on to the vocals, and I am not going to say the singer sounds like this and that vocalist from bands we all know. Why? I've read many reviews doing just that and most often I don't agree with the reviewer. So here is something that is hard to disagree on: Chris "Steel" sounds like Chris "Steel". However he is not your average (dare I say mediocre?) shouting vocalist. He definitely got his own characteristic raw and gritty sound and trademark screams so to speak (perfectly heard on the track Genocidal Gatlin Gunners). But... on previous releases the vocals were more "Chris" (try to play along) a lot of his "trademark" screams and when a song gets going you would be greeted with a "JAAAAOW!" all this is however present in their live renditions of the material from Armed with Rage, but not on the record itself. That and the gang vocals is the only small griefs I got, and be well assured they are small ones, because even though it is early in 2014 as of this review, it will sure rank high on my list of favourite releases from this year!

These days it is pretty hard for new metal bands to stand out, and it's no different for Battery. Looking at their logo, you're not in doubt of what genre they play. Their cover for this release was done by Andrei Bouzikov who is kind of shaping up to be the Ed Repka of our time, at least in my opinion. Many artists get covers done by him, and he does excellent jobs. So what does make Battery stand out? The sheer quality of their releases and this is not different. The album adds amazing songs to their already thrashing catalogue with songs like Vermin of Fukushima, Genocidal Gatlin Gunners, Narcotic Mirage and Armed with Rage. You definitely want to check out the first two by any means, the riffs are instant smashers, you will not regret it! By the way did you notice it said Vermin of Fukushima? In case you've been living under a rock, or simply forgot about it, some years back there was a toxic leak at the Fukushima powerplant and this song is about rats getting mutated by that and starts killing people. A bit silly for some maybe, but overall Battery uses a bit more serious lyrics compared to many new school "eat pizza and drink beer" lyrics, and the band is incredible good lyricists.

Even though the record was delayed because of bad label deals, Punishment 18 Records saved the day and it is a good feeling to finally have a full length from this band. After the recordings they brought on Jökull as guitarist, so it will be interesting to see his contributions on the next album. I think I've summed up pretty well what I think of this record, and if you like it, then you should check out the bands EP Mental Pollution and their demo Nuke, and make sure to get your hands on with tracks such as Ruins of Radiation, Born in a Beaker and The Hazmat Squad, just to mention a few! And if you're a gym-goer I can definitely recommend tearing it up with this album on your playlist. I think I have covered just about every single reason why you should get this album, it will no doubt be a fresh addition to your collection!

Be sure to support the band and follow their steps on Facebook.