Battlesword – Banners Of Destruction

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.

http://www.battlesword.de/    https://www.facebook.com/Battleswordofficial

Pete RingMaster 09/01/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Carnal Agony – Preludes & Nocturnes

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Preludes & Nocturnes is an album which manages to impress, excite, and disappoint in one go, though admittedly the latter is a mere fraction of the enjoyment had from the Carnal Agony release. There are just times though where it feels like it missed the opportunity to make an even greater impact on ears and subsequently the metal scene, evaded the chance to pungently push this highly accomplished band towards the brighter spotlights which admittedly it still might awaken.

Hailing from Umeå in Sweden, Carnal Agony began in 2011 and swiftly began luring attention for their diversely flavoured style of metal around lyrical themes inspired by the classic literature from the likes of HP Lovecraft, John Milton, and Edgar Allan Poe. Musically the band, on the evidence of their latest album, weaves in everything from heavy and classic to power and melodic metal to a thrash seeded sound, revealing inspirations from artists such as Iron Maiden, earlier Metallica, In Flames, Mercyful Fate, and Testament along the way. Early demos sparked interest whilst the band’s live presence has brought them attention and acclaim, especially through a tour with Six Feet Under last year. Carnal Agony has been called the latest sensation in the Scandinavian metal scene, a big claim not majorly contradicted by their debut album.

Produced by Ronny Milianowicz (ex-Sinergy, Dionysus, and Saint Deamon) and featuring former Helloween/Masterplan drummer Uli Kusch (also Gamma Ray, Holy Moses), the album gets off to a rousing start through War Prayer. Straight away heavy duty riffs and matching rhythms stand toe to toe with ears, setting down a sturdy thrash bred stride. Unpredictability shows itself to be a ripe essence within Preludes & Nocturnes and within just a few moments the first song has expectations wrong footed by slipping into a calmer melodic passage. This enticing invention is quickly surrounded by brewing essences of epic metal and stronger drama clad textures which in turn lead into another muscular onslaught. The gruff raw vocals of David Johagen join the mix now, his rugged, raw tones admittedly taking a little time to acclimatise to against the flowing tide of sound but an increasingly strong ingredient through subsequent listens of the release. Folkish elements tease alongside classic and power metal elements, already the band’s sound defying any precise tagging. The song continues to stampede and potently relax across its engaging length, a tasty appetite raising start to the encounter provided.

carnalagony-cover   The opening vocal lure of next up The Frozen Throne is excellent, mass clean vocals like a band of brothers crooning air and ears and an element not used enough as the voices are spot on. A guttural roar from Johagen brings the air born invitation down to earth, his warlike call the spark for a web of sonic enterprise from guitarists Mathias Wallin and Pär-Olof Persson, buffeted by the thumping skills of Kusch. Hooks and melodies colour the chest thumping proposition too as again a clutch of different flavours align impressively in the track which by its end you will surely be raising a fist and vocal chords with.

Rebel’s Lament is a less forceful proposition next, though still a muscular persuasion. Inventive endeavour from the guitars bound the rally of beats and riffs whilst the dark tones of bass from Roger Andersson add rich shadows which nicely temper the skilled craft flaming from the fingers of Wallin and Persson, especially in a bewitching solo. The track though does not match up to its predecessors but still has ears engrossed and satisfaction bubbling as does the next up Rebellion. A power ballad of sorts, Johagen reveals more of his slightly cleaner and stronger qualities, and if I am being honest it is when he lets those free that he and songs find a new quality. To be fair, it is personal taste more than anything but nudged by the fact that when he does ‘sing’ he often ignites already gripping songs further. The track grows in weight, intensity, and anthemic energy so that by its close you feel like you are astride a stallion going into battle.

As good as those two songs are Carnal Agony overshadows immediately after. It is a beast of a song, a stalking intimidation of stabbing riffs and scarring beats from its first breath and a carnivorous charge of sound and energy from there on. But that is only part of the confrontation, the guitars sparking within the core rampage with slithers and spears of sonic imagination and melodic toxicity, it all ridden by the commanding ‘follow me into battle’ tones of Johagen. The track is outstanding but too damn short at barely over two minutes.

Next up is the heavy/classic metal spiced Night of the Werewolf, a track with gothic overtones. This is one of those moments where personally an opportunity was lost, the earlier mentioned clean vocals feeling like they would have been a better fit whilst musically apart from a fiercely enticing bassline, the band feels like they kept a check on the imagination which had already lit up earlier songs.

Fire Walk with Me has ears and emotions feeling feisty again next, its fluid travel through a landscape of stormy energy and reflective melodies fascinating whilst once more guitars and bass reveals striking exploits bursting with magnetism and individual skill. Backed by voice and drum swipes, the track leaves a breathless listener in its wake, ready for Sleep Waker to please with its spicy heavy metal enterprise and Crystal Lake to turn into a head nodding enthusiast with its contagious and sinister imagination. The first of the two is another which, like the album, is a blend of full captivation and less successful elements or choices, but does get stronger and more enthralling with every listen. Its successor is a glorious stomp of horror bred devilry, everything from hooks to grooves, riffs to rhythms, an emotion inflaming festival of aggression and temptation.

The opening grisly bassline of Secrets Within the Shrine next sets the tone and scene of the triumph to come. Its thick bait is swiftly joined and enhanced by prowling riffs and venom swing grooves whilst beats are more predatory than vicious at this point. There is no escaping a Metallica whiff to the song but equally a scent of Misfits and the grouchy air of Mastodon helps bring alluring flavour of the song, whilst the constantly evolving ingenuity of the guitars takes it all to another level.

The track is excellent leaving Together We’re Lost the task with closing up the album, which it does in potent style. Familiar yet fresh, the track is an infectious and highly enjoyable end and another song which finds Johagen running the range of his delivery and yes he needs to ‘sing’ more because that is where he excels.

Definitely Preludes & Nocturnes is a release to take time with because it just grows with every recruitment of its bold and flavoursome adventure. Bottom-line is that it is a strong and enjoyable introduction to Carnal Agony who carry the promise of even greater exploits ahead.

Preludes & Nocturnes is available now via Sliptrick Records @ http://www.carnalagony.com/?audio=preludes-nocturnes

https://www.facebook.com/CarnalAgony  https://twitter.com/carnalagony

RingMaster 09/05/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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