As a rule, people tend to apologize too damn much. I get it, I do it as well. It comes from a basic sense of decency, a need to feel like we’re not a burden, that we’re cool, that we’re nice. But when it spins out, as it so often does, into something that holds us back from enjoying what we love simply because it’s non-standard or weird or just a bit abrasive is when that instinct becomes a burden. Upon opening the Bandcamp page for Battlemaster you can tell that these guys spend absolutely zero time apologizing for any aspect of their music. These guys play blackened thrash and by Jove, you’ll know they do from the first second. From the name of their most recent release, Ghastly, Graven & Grimoirelss to the release’s cover art, Battlemaster are here to chew gum and cast spells and they’re all out of casting reagents.
It certainly helps that the music plain and simple kicks a whole bunch of ass. Battlemaster make a kind of frenetic blackened thrash, no frills and no time spent on anything that’s not aggressive and in your face. They make it sound effortless as well; check out the second track, “Black Challenge”, for an example. The track just goes full speed from the first second, that killer groove turning the opening gallop riff into a whole heap of fun. Perhaps most contributing to this effortless feeling of power are the drums. Their use of cymbals on the first minute of the track (and throughout the album) is so agile and lighting quick that it just lends a flourish, a style to everything.
This works exceptionally well with the little dips and turns that the guitars take along this riff, the cymbals and fills embellishing their blistering attack. Later, these guitars explode into a series of face-melting solos, paying true tribute to their thrash roots with plenty of shred and a copious amount of notes. To this you can add the vocals and you’ve got “Black Challenge” all sorted. While they have a “main mode”, namely a pissed off, thrash-tinged sort of scream/screech, the band also make sure to keep things fresh on the vocal front. There’s just a hint of gang vocals down the line, a powerful “blegh” that really serves to dial up the derision and, overall, vocal lines that get the job down. Which is making you hyped and pissed off as all hell.
Finally, we can add in a more epic mode which infuses the music with the power metal influences you’d expect it to have. You can hear this on the next track, “Hectored Bugbearean Wrath” (yes that’s the track name). It has this massively epic riff near its end, more melodic than any guitar part that came before it. The idea here is to channel the pent-up energy of the album so far and cause it to wash over you, turning the momentum of the energy into a soaring emotional mood, a feeling which sits at the essence of all fast, nerdy metal.
Which is what the album sets out to do in general. Battlemaster have one purpose and one purpose only: to play fast, aggravated, aggravating thrash metal that takes no prisoners and, most important, makes no apologies whatsoever. Do you like fast riffs? Do you like loud drums, and atomic solos, and a man screaming at you about goblins and spells and what not? Do you like to feel grander than life, bigger than mountains, and on a warpath?Awesome, play this and play it fucking loud. Don’t like those things? Posers leave the hall. Battlemaster have no time to change who they are or what they’re passionate about; they have too many delicious licks to play.
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Ghastly, Graven & Grimoireless released on June 26th. Head on over to the band’s Bandcamp page above to get it. Do it.