Distinct uniqueness and originality is a few and far between occurrence in music today, the possibility of finding something that is so new that jaws drop and heartbeats stop is becoming as rare as honesty in politicians. So the next best thing is a band that uses elements from elsewhere to flavour and expand their own sound to create something that does nothing less than warm the soul and devour the senses. Detroit thrash metalers Battlecross are such a band and with their debut for Metal Blade Records they have delivered just an album.
Pursuit of Honor brings a potent and powerful blend of classic, thrash, and death metal in a broiling desensitising mix across twelve withering tracks. You can hear stabs and slices of Maiden, Slayer, Testament, Lamb of God, and Devildriver and the like throughout the album but all enclosed within the Battlecross fist and might. The drums of Michael Kreger take no prisoners and to be honest are worth listening to the album for alone, the driving and maniacal bass lines of Don Slater slaughter all before whilst the riffs and scything guitars of Tony Asta and Hiran Deraniyagala create havoc and essential melodic strikes in equal measure. Steering the unrelenting beast is vocalist Kyle Gunther, his deep throaty growling and venom spouting delivery elevating the sounds into demonic proportions.
The album quietly ambles in on the short melodic title track setting up the ear for the immediate onslaught from ‘Push Pull Destroy’. The song goes right for the jugular with driving riffs, impressive bass lines and attention seeking twin guitars that engage without any sign of pretension. The track is a sign of things to come as tracks like ‘Kaleb’, ‘Deception’, and ‘Man Of Stone’ come and go with ultimate effect. The latter of the three especially shows the bands ability to bring different sub genres of metal together effectively, the classic metal guitars playing upon some instinctive thrash riffs and death metal vocal chicanery.
Dead centre in the track listing for Pursuit of Honor is the release’s best track by far. ‘Breaking You’ is a masterful, immense brute of a track. Its incessant scathing attack through drums, the bass, and vocals are littered with defiant riffs and swarming melodic stings from the guitars. This track is what words like ‘classic’ were invented for. The song alone on the album leaves one gasping for air and clawing at the walls for sanctuary.
Though the remaining tracks do not live up to that moment when the world of Battlecross came together in perfection, there are some strong songs that should not be simply passed over. ‘Leech’ and ‘Better Off Dead’ both are brutal and blood stirring moments whilst ‘Misery’ again raises the bar for the album with its infectious and virulent attack.
Pursuit of Honor is a fine and very enjoyable album. Yes many will point to the lack of any real originality on the album but that accusation can be thrown at 90% of bands these days. What Battlecross has given is a release that does what one can only really ever ask of any album, give excellent quality and satisfying entertainment.