7/21/2007 - Review by: Etiam
Battered - Battered - 2006 - Tabu Records
|Track Listing1. Oblivion Awaits|
2. New Lament
4. Not One
5. The Dig
6. Industrial Killing
7. Perfect Illusion
9. The Flagellant
Between Battered and Blood Tsunami, it appears as though Norway is making its move to further diversify its hold on the metal market, where it already takes title to a significant chunk. And although Blood Tsunami may be mostly rookies (excepting Faust, of course), Battered is made up of some tried and true metal veterans, though not quite from the quarters you’d expect. Frode Glesnes, Aksel Herløe, and Gerhard Storesund (guitar, guitar, and drums respectively) actually all got their start in Einherjer, the disbanded Viking metal mainstay of the 90’s. The trio formed Battered almost immediately after Einherjer folded and brought in a new vocalist (Siggy Olaisen) to complete the transformation.
The band soon signed with the patchwork that is Tabu Records and by mid-’06 released this eponymous debut. Luckily for them, they have also succeeded in using their previous experience as a means of promotion while maintaining a separate identity from Einherjer. New projects for established musicians can often be difficult to make the transition to, particularly with a stylistic shift as drastic as this one. Shedding nearly all of their old ways, the trio have created a band that borrows liberally from groups like Dew-Scented, Exodus, and The Haunted, and position themselves comfortably within the realm of death/thrash tinged contemporary metal. Comparable to The Haunted in particular, Battered project much of the same atmosphere with aggressive but not breakneck riffing, and substantial but not overwhelming performances and production quality.
The albums’ best card is played early with ‘Oblivion Awaits’, a prime example of their formula replete with judicious harmonics and rousing verses with strong grooves. Siggy’s vocal approach is appropriate for thrash—decipherable yet appropriately harsh, occasionally altering its pitch for melodic emphasis—most comparable again to The Haunted or Exodus’s recent work, though fortunately less nasally than the latter.
At their best, it’s easy to see why the members laid Einherjer to rest. Battered allows for a new direction, a fresh perspective, and this album brings enough solid riffs and energy to the table to validate the effort made. Yet, thrash metal is not yet a forte for them, and their old Viking tendencies show faintly through in a couple spots, making ‘Battered’ frequently inconsistent. Many of these songs are given to prolonged passages that are almost entirely inert: repeating mediocre riffs for too long, slowing down for interludes, trying to build atmosphere, or tipping too heavily towards tough-guy posturing.
However, there are in the end enough promising spots to make Battered a bankable venture (particularly considering how thin the modern thrash field is nowadays). Banal and dry as some cuts may be, others such as the main riff of ‘Industrial Killing’, the flashy solo of ‘Demagog’, and the strong vocals of ‘Perfect Illusion’ are credit enough to give Battered the benefit of the doubt and look forward to a more consistent second effort.