As the band look forward to a potent 2018, appearances at the MetalDays Open Air Festival and Metal Inferno in Paderborn as support for Grave and Holy Moses already confirmed and in the midst of writing a new album, we look back at second full-length, Banners Of Destruction from German outfit Battlesword. Having missed it upon its release a fair while back and urged by the keen encouragement of our friend Markus Eck at Metal Message, we thought checking out what the fuss was about would be a smart move. This it proved to be, the release an imaginative and intense tempest of melodic death metal making a long overdue introduction for us to the Lower Rhine hailing quintet.
Formed in 1999, Battlesword has earned a rich reputation for their live presence and sound within the German metal scene, their 2003 debut album Failing in Triumph making a powerful statement in presence and sound. The years have seen the outfit earn plaudits sharing stages with the likes of Moonsorrow, Thyrfing, Suidakra, Warpath, Debauchery and many more alongside playing events like the Indoor Festival Battle of Otzenhausen and Slovenian festival MetalDays Open Air. It is also fair to say that Battlesword is a band which gives the time and effort needed to each step they make, a trait easily heard in their second album with its skilfully nurtured dynamics and enterprising textures. It is a sound which maybe evades true uniqueness, Amon Amarth easily coming to mind at times, but has its own character amidst enterprising adventure.
Banners Of Destruction is an album which simply grows in impressiveness and dexterity over time, each listen revealing fresh layers and dynamics maybe veiled upon initial visits. The same can be said for our ears about the tones of vocalist Axel Müller, his ursine delivery raw and centred on one attack to unsettle and scar ears yet with each listen his presence persuades that the album would not be as potent without his organic growl or indeed the specific craft of his companions.
The release opens with Spirit to the Flesh and an invasive yet enticing assault of heavy rhythms entangled in spidery tendrils of guitar. It is a strong invitation which soon breaks into an infectious saunter with a barbarous edge especially once Müller growls from its midst. The guitars of Christian Schmitz and Béla continue to encase the senses with predacious riffs and melodically lined grooves, the rolling beats of Andreas Klingen rousing and the grumble of Ben Bays’ bass taunting.
As the opener grabs attention, The Unnamed Magic similarly is a robust lure with its suggestive drama and portentous air around individual craft. It does not have the spark of its predecessor or seemingly the boldness but backs it up purposefully before the album’s title track winds rapacious grooves around the senses as rhythms pounce with matching character. The guitars continue to weave a melodic web as a great repetitious tinge lines their grooves, each adding to a suggestive tapestry of sound. Swiftly and firmly it eclipses the previous pair but itself is outshone by the prowling and imaginative presence of Grave New World. Müller’s almost corrosive style is a potent temper to the melodic spicing cast by the guitars, their union an effective conflict adding to the depth of song and sound.
The Silence of Victory continues the trend, one of the album’s very best moments an atmospheric instrumental which dances with the imagination as melodies seduce over a dark heartbeat while Tongues of Hatred brings carnivorous breath to the album’s experience with its intimidating air and touch. It is a trespass hungrily driven by the tenacious exploits of drums and bass but magnetically tempered by the spider’s web of animated melodies and venom lined but beckoning grooves. The track takes best song honours but soon equalled by successor Circle of Witches, a hip swinging, bone rattling stroll as flirtatious as it is predatory. Together they create the pinnacle of Banners of Destruction, a height prolonged if not quite to the same loftiness by the melodically mazy Bloodlust Symphony. It too is simultaneously a threat and enticement, Battlesword proving again they are adept at aligning contrasts.
Through the excellent Left for the Vultures where not for the first time on the album classic metal hues keenly lure ears and appetite and the tenaciously infectious and invasive There Will Be Blood, band and album hold attention with a firm hand, each of the two and especially the latter springing their own adventurous but enjoyably fierce and quarrelsome enterprise, aspects just as prevalent within the infernal temptation of Where Demons Awake, its charms woven by the ever alluring craft of the guitars.
Closed by the intensive examination sent across the senses by Enemy Divine and its hellish beauty, Banners of Destruction leaves pleasure rife. It maybe does not realise all of the bold adventure and individualism it persistently hints at but grabs the imagination from start to finish and nurtures a real anticipation for its successor.
Pete RingMaster 09/01/2018
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright