Album Review – Battle Beast / Circus of Doom (2022)

Welcome to the circus ruled by the one and only Battle Beast, featuring ten tracks that blend true Heavy Metal with pop and rock vibes.

Since their inception in 2005 in the city of Helsinki, Finland, the Heavy/Power Metal and Hard Rock bulldozer known as Battle Beast has been on an unstoppable ride, releasing an array of albums that can already be considered metal classics such as their 2015 opus Unholy Savior, and contemporary gems like their 2017 album Bringer Of Pain. Now in 2022 our beloved frontwoman Noora Louhimo and her bandmates Joona Björkroth and Juuso Soinio on the guitars, Eero Sipilä on bass, Janne Björkroth on the keyboards and orchestrations, and Pyry Vikki on drums are back in action with Circus of Doom, the follow-up to their not-so-good 2019 album No More Hollywood Endings. Recorded, produced, engineered and mixed by Janne Björkroth at JKB Studios, mastered by Mika Jussila at Finnvox Studios, and displaying a classy artwork by Jan “Örkki” Yrlund of Darkgrove Design, Circus of Doom features ten tracks that blend true Heavy Metal with pop and rock vibes, putting the band back on track and showing us all why they’ve become one of the most important names of the current European scene.

A quick circus-inspired intro evolves into the melodic and wicked title-track Circus of Doom, showcasing classic Power Metal lyrics declaimed by Noora (“The lions are hungry / And filled with rage / Afraid and angry / Locked in a cage / Ah / The circus is coming to town”) spiced up by the whimsical keys by Janne, whereas Wings of Light can be considered a journey back in time to their Bringer of Pain sound, with Pyry dictating  the song’s headbanging pace while Joona and Juuso keep slashing their guitars in the name of Heavy Metal firing riffs and solos that exhale pure electricity. Master of Illusion, one of the first singles of the album, brings forward the band’s more recent creations, mixing heavy music with pop in a theatrical manner, and once again it’s Noora who steals the spotlight with her powerful voice; followed by Where Angels Fear to Fly, another tune where the band focuses a lot more on their Hard Rock vein than on Heavy Metal while Janne kicks ass with his keys and orchestrations from start to finish. Then happy, strident riffs permeate the air in Eye of the Storm, an upbeat metal tune spearheaded by Noora’s soaring vocals and Pyry’s rhythmic drumming.

In Russian Roulette, witty words are powerfully sung by Noora (“In this game of Russian roulette / The room is filled with sin, would you let me in? / Tonight might be the night / As troubles disappear, the moon seems so near / Beneath electric starlight”) while her bandmates deliver a solid balance of Heavy Metal, Disco and Rock N’ Roll, whereas Freedom is an imposing, pounding composition that will please all fans of the early days of Battle Beast, bringing to our avid ears the galloping drums and bass by Pyry and Eero, respectively, not to mention how epic the backing vocals sound. The Road to Avalon sounds and feels extremely melodic, inviting us all to dance together with those Finnish rockers while Eero’s rumbling bass goes hand in hand with the old school riffage by the band’s guitar duo, and sharp vocalizations ignite the groovy and exciting tune Armageddon, bringing forward another striking performance by Noora on vocals supported by the stylish riffs and solos by Joona and Juuso. Last but not least, it’s time for a Power Metal feast entitled Place That We Call Home, where the sound of the guitars makes a potent paradox with the keys by Janne, putting a climatic ending to the album. As a matter of fact, if you go for the Digibook edition of the album you’ll be treated to two excellent bonus tracks, The Lightbringer and Tempest of Blades, both definitely worth the extra investment.

You can enjoy Noora’s soaring vocals and the thunderous Heavy Metal played by her henchmen in Circus of Doom in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, and of course purchase a copy of the album by clicking HERE. In addition, don’t forget to also follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel (if you haven’t done so yet, of course). Battle Beast might not sound as metallic as in their early days, but they managed to find an awesome balance between Heavy Metal and pop music that turns their more recent releases (with the exception of No More Hollywood Endings) a beyond enjoyable listen to any fan of good music, it doesn’t matter if that person is a metalhead or not, and that only contributes to elevate their name in the metal scene even more. In other words, welcome to the circus of Heavy Metal by Battle Beast, and don’t forget to bang your head nonstop to each one of the “attractions” of the show.

Best moments of the album: Wings of Light, Freedom, Armageddon and Tempest of Blades.

Worst moments of the album: Where Angels Fear to Fly.

Released in 2022 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Circus of Doom 4:57
2. Wings of Light 4:07
3. Master of Illusion 4:08
4. Where Angels Fear to Fly 3:56
5. Eye of the Storm 4:26
6. Russian Roulette 4:16
7. Freedom 3:44
8. The Road to Avalon 4:30
9. Armageddon 3:43
10. Place That We Call Home 3:47

Digibook bonus tracks
11. The Lightbringer 4:23
12. Tempest of Blades 3:32

Band members
Noora Louhimo – vocals
Joona Björkroth – guitars, backing vocals
Juuso Soinio – rhythm guitars
Eero Sipilä – bass, backing vocals
Janne Björkroth – keyboards, orchestrations, backing vocals
Pyry Vikki – drums

Album Review – Null Positiv / Independenz (2020)

A fantastic hybrid of Melodic Death Metal with Alternative Metal and Neue Deutsche Härte brought forth by one of the best new names of the underground German scene.

Forged in the fires of Lübbenau, Germany back in 2015 by the multi-talented frontwoman Elli Berlin, the up-and-coming Alternative/Nu Metal army known as Null Positiv has been on a constant and healthy rise in the underground scene releasing an array of electrifying albums since the band’s inception, starting with their 2016 debut EP Krieger until their brand new opus titled Independenz, or “independence” in English, brought into being earlier this year. Currently comprised of the stunning Elli Berlin on vocals, Bene Gugerbauer on the guitars, Manu Altendorfer on bass and Flo Schnablo on drums, Null Positiv are definitely one of the most interesting bands hailing from Germany from the past few years, not only presenting a fantastic hybrid of Melodic Death Metal with Alternative Metal, but singing all of their songs in their mother tongue German (just like their countrymen Rammstein), giving their music an organic and powerful vibe, with their new album Independenz beautifully representing their amalgamation of styles, their passion for heavy music and, therefore, pointing to an even brighter future for Elli and the boys.

In a truly Neue Deutsche Härte-inspired mode, Null Positiv begin their industrial feast with the excellent Freiheit (“freedom”), where Manu sounds bestial with his metallic bass jabs while Elli roars and screams rabidly from start to finish, followed by Insomnia, bringing forward a thrilling fusion of Alternative and Industrial Metal that reminds me of some of the best creations by Korn, led by the whimsical riffs by Bene and the pounding drums by Flo. Moreover, the music flows smoothly until the very end, setting the tone for the title-track Independenz, where you don’t need to speak a single word in German to understand and feel deep inside your soul what Elli passionately declaims, evolving into a dark ballad showcasing rumbling bass lines, melodious riffs and an empowering atmosphere. And growling like a demonic entity Elli steals the spotlight in the Melodic Death Metal tune Armageddon, infused with modern-day Groove Metal elements while Bene and Manu make a dynamic and incendiary duo with their thunderous strings.

Once again venturing through more alternative and modernized lands, Flo dictates the rhythm with his classy beats supported by the strident guitar lines by Bene in Gib Mir Ein Zeichen (“give me a sign”), while Elli “raps” the song’s lyrics. Then it’s time to be stunned by the gorgeous performance by Elli in the delicate but somber Blutdiamant (“blood diamond”), a stylish semi-ballad where its vicious bass and drums make an amazing paradox with its piano notes and all gentle background elements, whereas Phantomschmerz (“phantom pain”) sounds even more metallic and aggressive than its predecessors, with Elli singing and growling in great fashion while Flo shows no mercy for his drums (and consequently for our necks). After such amazing display of savagery by Null Positiv, grim vocalizations, a sense of hopelessness and endless electricity will penetrate deep inside your soul in Ich Fühl Nichts Mehr (“I don’t feel anything anymore”), one of their most atmospheric tunes while keeping their core Alternative Metal vibe intact.

Let’s keep banging our heads to their groove and melody in the exciting aria titled Fall Out, perfect for jumping up and down with Null Positiv in a fusion of contemporary Melodic Death Metal and alternative music, with Bene kicking ass with his riffs, and the quartet never seems tired of smashing our heads with their heavy-as-hell but very harmonious music as we can all witness in Schwarzes Labyrinth (“black labyrinth”), a very pleasant composition where Manu and Flo bring thunder and groove to our ears with their rumbling weapons. In Deine Haut (“your skin”) we’re treated to a rising metal intro where the guitars by Bene are intertwined with Elli’s striking vocals, resulting in a solid creation by Null Positiv (albeit not as flammable as the rest of the album), followed by Kommen Und Gehen (“come and go”), their last breath of insanity in the form of music with a welcome 80’s and 90’s vibe, bringing forward a great paradox between riffs and drums while Elli continues to hypnotize us all with her piercing clean vocals and evil gnarls.

In a nutshell, if you’re a fan of the Neue Deutsche Härte crafted by Rammstein and at the same time of female-fronted metal bands the likes of Arch Enemy, The Agonist and Infected Rain, you should definitely take a shot at Independenz, which is by the way available for streaming in its entirety on Spotify, as the new installment by Null Positiv might be exactly what you’re craving in heavy and alternative music. Hence, don’t forget to give Elli and the guys a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel for all of their breathtaking videos, and of course to purchase Independenz from the band’s own webstore, as well as from Apple Music, from Amazon or from Discogs. Null Positiv not only reached new heights with Independenz, but as the name of the album already suggests, any band in the world can be one hundred percent independent (Triplebase Records is their own label, by the way) and still be successful and deliver first-class music to the masses, proving to all critics that heavy music might not be the exact same thing as decades ago, but it’s still alive and kicking.

Best moments of the album: Freiheit, Armageddon and Phantomschmerz.

Worst moments of the album: Deine Haut.

Released in 2020 Triplebase Records

Track listing
1. Freiheit 4:09
2. Insomnia 4:05
3. Independenz 5:29
4. Armageddon 2:55
5. Gib Mir Ein Zeichen 3:37
6. Blutdiamant 3:27
7. Phantomschmerz 3:55
8. Ich Fühl Nichts Mehr 3:37
9. Fall Out 4:00
10. Schwarzes Labyrinth 4:06
11. Deine Haut 5:02
12. Kommen Und Gehen 3:37

Band members
Elli Berlin – vocals
Bene Gugerbauer – guitars
Manu Altendorfer – bass
Flo Schnablo – drums