Battle Beast // Steel
Rating: 4.5/5.0 —The power of steel, the scent of cheese
Label: Hype Records
Websites: |
Release Dates: Out Worldwide!

So there Steel Druhm was, sitting with a promo entitled Steel by the unknown Finns called Battle Beast. A quick perusal of the song titles made it clear they graduated Summa Cum LOUDLY from the Manowar School of Song Namery, as the numerous mentions of “metal,” “steel” and “iron” attest. The cover features a lion man fighting a robot as drawn by a ten year old at metal summer camp. Despite my renowned power metal geekdom, I felt a sense of dread and apprehension as I pressed play. Well damn it all if this thing isn’t full of surprises. Steel is a raging slab of frenetic, over-the-top 80’s metal worship that ladles out heaping helpings of thick cheese sauce and demands that you take seconds. Raging twin guitars, heroic solos, uber dramatic song structures and the vocals, Dear God the vocals!! The singer has a huge set of lungs and an even bigger set of balls which are frequently stuck in a vice! From gravelly, rasping shouts, air raid siren screams and superior singing, he can do it all and its so damn metal it kills my neighbor’s lawn. Imagine my shock to find out there are no balls to put in the vice because the HE is actually a SHE! That’s right, Nitte Valo is a true metal queen and she’s flat out brilliant on this album. However, unless you love the classic sounds of 80’s metal (think Grim Reaper, old Grave Digger, Accept) mixed with a smattering of power metal, this will leave you running for the door but quick. It revels in all the cliches and idiocy of that era and these folks certainly aren’t trying to be the next Opeth. You still with me? OK, stay with me.

With opener “Enter the Metal World,” you get big, fist pumping 80’s metal riffs and Ms. Valo quickly introduces herself with authority by hitting some crazy high notes and being bad ass in every way a singer can be. So impressive is her performance that she makes the ultra cheesy Gamma Ray meets Manowar chorus actually work instead of triggering gales of laughter. There’s even that cool ohhh-ohhhhh-ohhh chanting in the background as Valo tears things up like Godzilla. As good as this song is, its just an appetizer for the metal gems that await. “Armageddon Clan” is one of the best classic metal songs I’ve heard in forever and its been in non-stop rotation for a week. Valo’s vocals are double tracked for the chorus with one clean and one super raspy/harsh like on old Grave Digger albums and it works to perfection. “The Band of the Hawk” and “Iron Hand” go for a more epic approach which works well and tracks like “Justice and Metal,” “Die-Hard Warrior” and “Victory” are the most sincere, brilliant yet cheeseball tunes since the Lost Horizon days (Valo even channels the mighty Daniel Heinman at times). Even the power ballad “Savage and Saint” is rendered positively molten by the ear-shredding vocals in the back half of the song. Ten out of the ten songs here will kick your fanny and call you granny. Its a win from start to finish.

Ms. Valo is obviously the focal point and secret weapon as she employs every vocal trick in the book with aplomb and savage grace. Her voice comes closest to Jan Thore Grefstad (Saint Daemon/Ex-Highland Glory) but she also has similarities to Heinman and Chris Boltendahl (Grave Digger). In a nutshell, she’s a metal titan. The guitars by Juuso Soinio and Anton Kabanen also lift the material up with consistently solid, catchy riffing and foot-on-amp soloing. Even the freaking keyboards are fun! I don’t think I ever wrote that before. Rounding it out is a production far better than the album cover would have you expecting. Everything is crisp and clear but a bit raw in that good metally way.

Its been awhile since I had this much fun listening to an album. It goes from deadly serious to painfully cliche but its impossible to turn off. You can rock out, sit in awe of the vocals and laugh at the occasional cartoonishness but you’ll be having tons of fun and you WILL be hooked. This is a great debut that puts these guys way ahead of the other retro 80’s acts like Enforcer, Steelwing, etc. etc. I love this and I think I love Ms. Valo too. Call me!

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  • I just wanted to point out that actually, the super-raspy gravelly Udo Dirkschneider-vocals are done by the guitarist Kabanen. But don’t worry, you’re not the first one to make that same mistake, and Nitte Valo is still indeed amazing. :)

    What makes me a bit sad about the album is that the band left a couple of their (imo) best songs out of it, and that the songs that did make it onto it (Armageddon Clan for one) were slightly castrated in the process somehow… Yes, believe it or not, but they actually had even more balls and fury in their demo versions. :P

    • Thanks for the heads up Mikko. Now I really want to hear the demos!

      • Yeah, me too. Sounds pretty wicked. 

        • Oh hell, I’d completely forgotten I’d commented here…

          Anyways, if you haven’t heard them somewhere already, a lot of the stuff is on Youtube, such as the left-behind songs “Death And Glory”, “Defenders Of Steel” and “Hand In Hand”. The latter is probably my favourite.

  • Al Tatts

    You had me at lion man fighting a robot.

  • i just saw them live in Wacken because of this review so thanks for that :P

    the music is awesome and the show was really fun :D
    i hope they make it it big someday.

    • I wasn’t aware of the source material but dorky metal is cool as hell! Thanks for the info.

  • Tarık Ay

    Steel is totally mind-blowing! I just can’t get enough of it. Plus, 3 of the songs are based on Berserk, which a manga series. Everything in Steel is catchy, refreshing and thrilling.

  • Lyon Kressner

    “A quick perusal of the song titles made it clear they graduatedSumma Cum LOUDLY from theManowar School of Song Namery, as the numerous mentions of “metal,” “steel” and “iron” attest. The cover features a lion man fighting a robot as drawn by a ten year old at metal summer camp. ”
    -This shit had me laughing so fucking hard it’s unreal. Also, great fucking album.

    • Glad you enjoyed my goofy humor AND the album!

  • David Damien

    This is true METAL in the vain of old school Iron maiden meets RATT meets ACCEPT, meets fucking who cares! This is the shit that doesn’t exist anymore…but wait it lives and breathes and fucking pants in Battle Beast! If you’re a fan of Pure 80’s kick your ass METAL you will love this. 5/5 for sure without a fucking doubt!

  • dude! love em. their myspace site sucks donkey ass, but ill buy the album now.

  • Enter the Metal World…are u phucking kidding me? this shit is the BOMB!! i love it. i want to marry her.

    • Forget it, she’s mine!!!

      • we’ll see about that, my friend! im going to see them in concert in 60 minutes (supporting poison black…whatever that is) !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WWWWWWWWOOOOARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

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