It comes of no surprise to those of you restlessly commenting on EVERY FUCKING review, YMIO, and TYMHM article that I got truly thrashed this year. Being a product of the Bay-Area heyday, I haven’t had much fun with any of the modern thrash output storming the iTunes racks in the last decade or so. But 2015 gave me a few monsters I will love for eons to come. As one commenter said, it’s no secret what a few of year-end selections will be; mainly because I have yet to shut the hell up about them (Reign of Fury!! Trials!!!). This next one may not be a top-ten contender, but for those looking to break their necks, Battlecross‘ Rise to Power should finish the job. Hailing from my ancestral homeland (Michigan), Battlecross have been on a riff-slinging mission to takeover the Midwest one show at a time (even headlining for our friends Trials and War Curse) and become the top-dog of Metal Blade Records. Mixing up influences and delivering tight-as-fuck executions, this five-piece is here to snap necks and knock you back off your wagon. Warning: includes palm-muted chugs; may cause salvation at the sound of cracking beer-caps.
With an upbeat tempo and slap-happy attitude, opener “Scars” gets your side-bob a-happenin’ with tight picks, stupid-precise drum work, alternating rasps/growls, and just the right touch of melody. With fire in your belly, “Not Your Slave” fuels that liquid-red with flames not seen since the days of Dimebag Darrell. Dropping into Far Beyond Driven territories following the open riffage, “Not Your Slave” reminds you of that pickup truck you saw this morning with fifteen Pantera bumper-sticks slapped on its ass. Though more Panteraisms can be found on “Bound by Fear,” Battlecross is without “poser” in their vocabulary. Like our favorite holiday trivia game, “Spoiled” ups the name-dropping with a Motörheadache in its opening chords and a Children of Bodom-inspired chorus, while the soothing intro to “Blood & Lies” gives way to some Ghoulish leads and Shagrath-esque raspiness leaching from Gumby’s beerhole. The game continues when Lamb of God shows up in the growing breakdown of “Shackles” and the “Cemetery Gates” open for the powerfully melodic chorus of “The Path.”
Rise to Power is yet another example to reinforce Battlecross‘ status as one of the most consistent bands in the business. Though the back-catalog is filled with gems, Rise of Power sports some of the band’s best material and a performance quality that makes many technical thrash bands look like amateurs. Mixed and mastered by Mark Lewis (The Black Dahlia Murder, Unearth, etc.), you should expect some heavy compression but the shredding should help you get over it. Some advice for those looking for some thrashtastic socking stuffers for your loved ones: don’t be cheap.
Tracks to check: “Not Your Slave,” “Blood & Lies,” and “The Path”