By the Holy Metal Cow and Loki’s Grail. We already went through the latest terror attack of Within Temptation. Didn’t we?
Earlier this year. And it was not all that pleasant if I recall correctly. Methinks that lately, all those Power and Symphonic Metal folks seem to be in step with each other. Pending a few changes in line-up and make-up, you will get the same, same but different primeval soup of preexistent sound bytes. As if some massive sampling is going on somewhere and unbeknownst to us. And truly, some sort of understanding seems to exist as to how Power or Symphonic Metal ought to sound like. So that the fans can be fed with a fare that will please their delicate musical palate like so much BurgerKing that tastes the same all over the world.
So, what is it about Battle Beast and their newest concoction?
The band just released their 2019 record No Hollywood Endings and it bothered the RMR deck crew some. The band came a long way from Steel in 2011 to this – lemme think – mushy mix of Fleetwood Mac, Within Temptation and a somewhat rusty version of Nightwish. All this comes with a serving of Power Metal that – more often than not – betrays the influence of Kiske and Avantasia. Only that the latter upped their level of quality lately.
Were it not for the absolutely stellar pipes of Noora Louhimo, this record would have disappeared somewhere into the deep seas of lost metal adventures. I continue to be truly amazed by her reach and ability to modulate her style to whatever the composers throw at her. She took over from Nitte Valo after the latter left in 2012. Yet, methinks that Noora’s voice still is underused and those mightly lungs could use some sturdier fare. Just sayin’.
No More Hollywood Endings sports an identity crisis too. The tracks – pretty much constantly – oscillate from pop to metal, and back again. Even if you have a few really metallic tracks scattered all around that bombast. Also, Battle Beast insist to underlay pretty much everything they do with this faux choir that somehow reminds me of the ubiquitous style the ‘new’ Leaves’ Eyes record displayed.
And you know what?
No More Hollywood Endings really does not contain a lot of material that did more for me than providing some background music. Apart from terrors like Endless Summer, you get radio-ready pieces like Eden. If you can survive the boring bass/snare drum work, that is. It’s got all the accouterments that will lead all those mainstream radioheads to state that they listened to some metal on their favorite channel. Yeah, big deal.
Another possible candidate for radio fame would be No More Hollywood Endings, the title track. This one really is one of the better pieces on this record. It also drives home this sense of over-production that permeates the record. The master really smoothened out all the edges, scratches and other yells of joy, so that you’ll get that pappy mash at bite-sized lengths. So that nobody in the land of light will take fright and drop the disk.
World on Fire sounds like an uneasy mix of a polished Symphonic Metal anthem from the likes of Delain and some crime Amaranthe usually commits. And even the galloping about the soundscape during the solo won’t change that impression.
Really, the only track that somewhat talked to my cold metal heart is Piece of Me. This one combines meaty riffing with an energy that would impress the folks at Halestorm. It has got that tasty little viciousness that I really appreciated. With – maybe – My Last Dream as a close second, as some added and rocky bite goes.
Now, it goes without saying that this style of metal works well for festivals. Add a few pyrotechnics to the fray and pump up the amps. And – boom – Wacken is saved all over again. Yet again, I do have that sinking feeling that even all those theatrics cannot save these bands for too long from a certain decline in concert bookings. After all, many others will do pretty much exactly the same thing. And the audience might very well become bored after the fifth time of a somewhat similar spectacle they somehow already saw before.
In the end, No More Hollywood Endings is neither here nor there. Battle Beast would have it in them to really create something scratchy that could retain the attention of the avid metalhead. Yet, the band went for the polished type of Power Metal that seems to become the norm – or the new comfort zone. And thus, becomes the terrible mainstream. If Nuclear Blast had any hand in the shape and form of the record, we – of course – do not know.
The album really is the sum of missed opportunities. A few jolts of real crunchy metal notwithstanding. And that is a real pity for a band with much more potential than is on display here.