Rise to Power
(Metal Blade Records)
When you think of metal hotbeds in America, Detroit doesn’t exactly come to mind, but considering the ethos is thrash metal and all that’s happened to one of America’s most renown cities, it’s a union that makes sense. Battlecross has been the band spearheading the Detroit metal cause, and the group’s upcoming third album cements them as a top-tier thrash/death metal act. The road to how they got here is more interesting. After self-releasing their excellent debutPursuit of Honor, the Michigan band stuttered a bit on its follow-up (and first for Metal Blade) War of Will. While the debut helped showcase their formidable brand of thrash sprinkled with bits of melodeath. The band traffics in the same circles as Revocation and Sylosis, but Battlecross eschews a progressive influence for an added layer of classic heavy metal flair and showmanship. Battlecross always remembers the riff is king, so while songs will get technically impressive, they are a metal band first and foremost.
That’s what is so impressive with the band’s fantastic return to form, the appropriately-named Rise to Power. There’s a focus here that is refreshing. Each song seems perfectly suited to tear down the roof at the next Battlecross tour stop, with epic riffing, horns-in-the-air soloing, furious tempos, and shout-a-long choruses galore. While they don’t really sound like them, it’s easy to see the influence of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden on Rise to Power, as themes of overcoming that which binds us or keeps us down are perfectly suited for Battlecross’ brand of epic metal. It all coalesces beautifully in what might go down as the best thrash song of this decade, “Not Your Slave”. The riff will make Dave Mustaine jealous; hell, the whole song feels like Megadeth on steroids. It’s a banger of the best kind, with a sound and feel that are eminently classic.
Really, aside from a somewhat subpar first half of the album (tracks 1 and 4 are merely good in comparison to the whole), there is little to pick apart on Rise to Power. Battlecross have seemingly figured out their issues on album number to create one of the best thrash albums in a long time. With a fantastic replay value and a high riff per second ratio, Rise to Power is sure to win over a lot of new fans for the band. (Nicholas Senior)