Friday, April 26, 2013

Battlerage - Blood, Fire, Steel

Battlerage... the first thing I noticed about Metal On Metal's roster is the massive amount of bands that have the prefix or suffix or word Rage in their name. Battlerage, Outrage, Ragenheart, Meliah Rage. It's not limited to band names though when a quick sifting through their catalog reveals albums with titles like Purgatory's Rage and Ragenheart (the band's self-titled album). Also related would be Battlerage drummer Francisco Vera's other project Steelrage. So, there is a lot of rage being thrown around apparently. Anyway, Blood, Fire, Steel is the second album from Battlerage, following on the strength - or rage - of Steel Supremacy which came out a half decade earlier. While the band did release some material between a five year wait seemed to do Battlerage some good. Steel Supremacy was a strong debut but the production was a bit half-cocked. Luckily Blood, Fire, Steel is a more polished and professional release in this regard.

The disc has a cool cover, with some World of Warcraft styled warrior holding heads and an axe and there is fire and chains and cool helmets and very impractical shin guards. The booklet is a whopping twelve pages though two of the inner pages are a Metal on Metal catalog according to the press version I'm looking at. I think it may be considered invasive for a label to use an album's booklet as an opportunity to advertise other releases so I don't know how I feel about the usage in that sense but the rest of the booklet contains lyrics, some additional artwork and a two page panoramic painting with the band's logo. The most interesting this is vocalist Fox-Lin Torres' face on page one. He looks like he is being electrocuted. Lyrics are pretty standard and generic Heavy Metal fare.

Musically, the songs are all pretty simply structures focused around chugging based riffs. There is not a lot of intricacy embedded into the riffs while guitarist Daniel Roman does produce some rather impressive solos and leads. I wouldn't really classify Battlerage as a power metal band in the sense that is often associated with European power metal bands though influence from the earlier era of that scene and artists like Grave Digger or Running Wild is apparent as well as influence from 90's Manowar. The songs are somewhat samey, with each one lacking a whole lot of individual character. You could rearrange basically all the tracks here into any order without affecting the flow of the disc - a flow which seems to come to a trickle near the ending two or three tracks. For the epic track titles and the the imagery, I don't get an epic impression from the tracks at all. Having more than one solo in a song doesn't render a song "epic" and so I don't think you can approach the band from that angle either.

The problem that Battlerage encounter on this album is that while all the songs are good, there is nothing to really necessitate multiple listens. The album is a gerridae. If there is anything worth listening to multiple times on the album, it's the vocal performance of the passionate Torres. He leads the charge here and even one better tracks like "Battlefield Belongs to Me," which is more energetic and contains more varied and interesting riffs compared to sedentary tracks like opener "The Devil's Wings Bring Fire From Hell," or "Black Hordes, Arise!." His vocals are a direct mid-range shout with some snarl. The Chilean accent gives the English lyrics some charm. He is less melodic on this release compared to Steel Supremacy however and I think that affects the album negatively. Best track here is going to be "Wine of the Wicked," which starts with a sample intro and subpar opening riff but picks up once the vocals and verse riff which resolves with harmonies and is driven onward with triplets before launching into one of the better solos on the album.

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