Two years ago US metallers Battlecross impressed with debut album Pursuit of Honor, a release which pooled a potent and powerful blend of classic, thrash, and death metal into twelve ferocity driven senses withering tracks. It was possibly not steeped in ground breaking originality but compensated with a sound which ravaged and thrilled with exhausting hunger. The Detroit band now return with its successor, the again Metal Blade Records released War of Will, and taking the same flavours and inspirations into its torrent of heavy metal fury stands as a big, if again undemanding on boundaries, step forward. It is a breath-taking onslaught of adrenaline crafted metal brought with unbridled passion and untethered aggression, and simply irresistible.
All the elements which powered its predecessor into the passions return; the rapacious riffing, uncompromising rhythms, and the deliciously predatory basslines all remain at the core of the sound but taken to another depth of enterprise and skilled effectiveness. Featuring this time around the drumming skills of Shannon Lucas who arguably adds an extra antagonism to the rhythmic potency of the band, War of Will roars before the ear like a muscle fuelled gladiator and promotes the band into an even greater and formidable presence within metal, backing up their impressive reputation garnered from live performances at numerous festival and sharing stages with the likes of Five Finger Death Punch, Killswitch Engage, Trivium, Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Deftones, Suicidal Tendencies Municipal Waste, Corrosion of Conformity and many more.
Co-produced at Audio Hammer Studios with famed producers Mark Lewis and Eyal Levi, War of Will rips at the ear from its very first second as opener Force Fed Lies stands eye to eye with the senses, challenging them to flee before gripping them by the throat and showering them with exhausting rhythms, equally commanding riffs, and furies of vocal enterprise, not forgetting tantalising grooves. Into its stride the track provides a steady wall of provocation which expels flames of melodic enticement from its sinew clad battlefronts. The vocals of Kyle Gunther deliciously squall with serpentine intent as they ride the crest of the sonic abrasiveness and at times is joined by a sturdier pose to snatch a lift on the continually impressive grooves. It is a mighty start which ignites the greed for more of the same.
Flesh & Bone follows with a melodic tease to its armoury, riffs and tight feisty grooves bringing a fiery narrative to the infection soaked track. The guitars of Tony Asta and Hiran Deraniyagala create compelling colour soaked sonic endeavour alongside the insatiable riffs which ignite the senses throughout the album but here they carve an adventure far from the more direct aggressive confrontations elsewhere which is just scintillating and inspires equal imagination in the thoughts. It is an enthralling slice of inventive imagination and a benchmark for the rest of the album.
The cantankerous Never Coming Back with its belligerent rhythms and vocal scowling sear the flesh of the ear next, its battering intensity speared with further flames of riveting sonic hues from the guitar, soon followed by the equally and arguably similar malevolent provocation of My Vaccine. With the bass lines of Don Slater coursing moodily through the track it is not a song which has the drama or impact of previous songs but still keeps attention and hunger bubbling for Get Over It to exploit with its unpredictable savagery and inventive manipulation held in a rhythmic caging alongside insidiously bred grooves, the bass again finding a stronger rabidity to its presence. Wholly infectious and matching in intimidation it is another powerful highlight of the album.
The likes of the thrash cured Ghost Alive, the tempestuous The Will To Take Over with its treacherous sonic terrain, and the threatening raptorial Beast provide further notable moments on the album though every song makes an explosively satisfying companion even if not all linger after their departure in thoughts. The third of this trio stalks the senses with roaming grooves and magnetically luring riffs which combine to enslave the passions and pull the passions deeper into the release, the solo and melodic imagination an extra feast of pleasure and certainly long remaining once off to find new flesh to savage.
The exceptional track is followed by closer Never-Ending Night, a song which choices a more predictable stance to make its final statement. It is a more than decent proposition but possibly the album would have been better ending on the intense height of the previous track. It does not stop War of Will from being an impressive and exciting antagonist and confirming Battlecross as one of the best emerging heavy metal bands this decade.
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