Battered - Battered - Tabu Records / Candlelight Records USA 2006
Running Time: 41:28
Shades of longtime Viking metal horde Einherjer's Dragons Of The North can be heard in the opening charge of "Oblivion Awaits", but for those seeking halls of mead-filled horns and Odin owning something-or-other, shades are about all you'll hear, and not much else. Battered (despite the core of Einherjer's presence here) are a much more straightforward thrash attack than anything you'd expect from Norway these days. Gone are the male choirs coming off like Barbershop Quartet Night at the bathhouse, replaced by slicing guitars and the Steve "Retro" Souza-styled rasp of Siggy Olaisen, and driving "New Lament" home with bonegrinding crunch. Take Bonded By Blood era Exodus, slow it down about 1/3 of the way, and you've got a pretty good aural image of "Demagog", crystalline production by guitarist Frode Glesnes taking care to avoid the occasionally muddy sound of his early work in Einherjer. "Not One" fuses blast to Sodomized riffery, bassist Ole's boomstick losing none of its power in the mix. The windmill fest of "The Dig" drives the confrontational lyric home courtesy of midpaced stomp, which carries on through "Industrial Killing". Ferociously melodic dual lead breaks in "Perfect Illusion" remind the American girlpants and eyeliner crew of Hot Topic legionnaires whereall those riffs they're stealing came from. Yep, Scandinavia. The chorus swings back and forth like Mjolnir on a chain pendulum, Siggy's vocals take rave maliciously during the swagger of the song's midsection, bolstered by deathstyle background shouts, yet never once veering into hardcore territory, thank Wotan. "Parasight" and "The Flagellant" continue the assault, the battle-ready tone of Battered in full effect by this time, keeping a tight groove while hurtling forward at breakneck speed. While the rest of the album is pretty much no-holds-barred thrash fury, "Derelict" adds a previously unheard level of dynamics, recalling the aforementioned Megadeth, but circa Youthanasia, and drunk on gallons of liquid testosterone. Some may balk, but I found it the perfect motorcycle-booted kick out the south side of the album.
The world of metal needs bands like Battered, now more than ever. Bands that aren't scared to show their influences, but are determined not to revel in retro Hell. It's bands like this, and albums like Battered that will rip true metal from the cold, dead fingers of anythingcore, and carry it proudly into the future.