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 – Scarlet Aura / Genesis of Time (2021)

One of the best Romanian bands of all time returns like a Phoenix with the breathtaking last part of “The Book of Scarlet” trilogy, offering us all more of their flawless fusion of Heavy and Power Metal.

4.0rating

scarlet-aura-genesis-of-time-2021Chaos on Earth, uncertainty in life, plagues, disasters and once again the feeling that there is no one there to save the world. But from a distance there is always someone or something that watches humankind. Scarlet, partly Devil, partly Angel and most important, partly Phoenix, is there together with its sidekicks to set rights and wrongs. That’s what you’ll get in Genesis of Time, the third and last part of “The Book of Scarlet” trilogy by Romanian Heavy/Power Metal outfit Scarlet Aura, following up on their critically acclaimed albums Hot’n’Heavy, released in 2018, and Stormbreaker, from 2020. Mixed, mastered and produced by the band’s own guitarist Mihai “Myke D” Dănciulescu at Silver City Studio, and displaying a stylish artwork by renowned Brazilian artist Gustavo Sazes, Genesis of Time does not shy away from taking risks and introducing unexpected turns, new musical atmospheres and landscapes, bringing the perfect and balanced ending to the trilogy with its over one hour of undisputed music carefully brought forth by frontwoman Aura Dănciulescu, guitarist Mihai “Myke D” Danciulescu, bassist Rene Nistor and drummer Matthias Klaus.

The futuristic and epic instrumental The Book of Scarlet will instantly transport you to the magical world of Scarlet Aura, with Mihai taking the lead with his stylish and sharp riffs and solos accompanied by Rene and Matthias with their heavy kitchen, flowing into the Power Metal extravaganza titled Raw Power, a song that will put you to bang your head nonstop to the classic beast by Matthias while Aura mesmerizes us all with her soaring, metallic and absolutely melodic vocals until the very last second. Then a a cinematic intro morphs into more of their classic fusion of Heavy and Power Metal in Dark Lightning, where Mihai once again steals the spotlight with his razor-edged riffs and striking solos while Rene doesn’t stop smashing his bass; and Aura and the boys masterfully bring forward the Stratovarius-inspired tune Utopia, another powerful composition that lives up to the legacy of Melodic Metal without showing a single second of boredom. Quite the contrary, it’s utterly electrifying from start to finish, and there’s no time to breathe as the quartet keeps delivering fast and melodic metal music for our vulgar delectation in Frostbite, with Matthias taking the lead with his kick-ass drums, whereas in The Black Roses the band slows things down a bit but keeping the heaviness of their core essence intact, with Aura declaiming the song’s lyrics with tons of passion and energy.

And the rumbling bass by Rene ignites their metal machine once again in Right Place, Wrong Time, also showcasing interesting background keys, and all of course spiced up by another sharp vocal performance by Aura, while in Human Obsolete they get back to a more metallic and thunderous sonority, with Mihai and Rene being in total sync with their respective riffage and bass jabs. It’s time for another Scandinavian Melodic Metal-like feast entitled In The Line of Fire, where Aura’s vocals are beyond impactful, supported by the old school sound crafted by her bandmates, whereas adding hints of the Doom Metal played by renowned acts like Candlemass and Black Sabbath to their trademark Power Metal they offer us all the heavy and sinister tune Saints Need Sinners, with over six minutes of groovy bass jabs, slashing guitars, pounding drums and dark vocals. Are you ready to fly high in the sky together with Aura and her henchmen? That’s exactly what Scarlet Aura deliver in the epic Wings of Light, a straight-to-the-point, in-your-face Power Metal tune showcasing all of the band’s heavy artillery, followed by the title-track Genesis Of Time, the most epic of all songs bringing forward nine minutes of sheer power and electricity, or in other words, a dense and imposing aria by the band that will please all fans of classic Power Metal, also presenting elements from Progressive Metal to give it an extra kick. Needless to say, the trilogy couldn’t have ended in a more climatic manner.

scarlet-aura-2021All good things must come to an end, which is the case with Scarlet Aura’s “The Book of Scarlet” trilogy with the release of the excellent Genesis of Time, and it’s impressive how the band managed to bring into being an even better opus than Stormbreaker, displaying a more mature, melodic and intricate sound that will undoubtedly be appreciated by metalheads from all over the world. Hence, if you want to know more about one of the best bands (if not the best) in the history of Romanian metal, you can follow the band on Facebook, on Instagram and on VKontakte, subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their distinguished music and videos, stream all of their awesome creations on Spotify, and of course show your true support to the band by purchasing Genesis of Time from their own webstore or from other retailers such as Apple Music and Amazon sooner than you can say “scarlet”. Now that the trilogy is finally concluded, let’s see what Scarlet Aura will have for us fans with their upcoming releases. And despite the fact I doubt they can unleash upon us something better than Genesis of Time, I must also say that no one should ever doubt Aura and the boys, as just like a metallic Phoenix they keep coming back from the underworld spreading their fiery music to all four corners of the earth with each of their first-class albums.

Best moments of the album: Dark Lightning, Utopia, In The Line of Fire and Wings of Light.

Worst moments of the album: The Black Roses.

Released in 2021 Universal Music Romania/Silver City Records

Track listing  
1. The Book of Scarlet 6:31
2. Raw Power 4:49
3. Dark Lightning 5:14
4. Utopia 5:02
5. Frostbite 5:46
6. The Black Roses 6:13
7. Right Place, Wrong Time 5:46
8. Human Obsolete 5:28
9. In The Line of Fire 5:46
10. Saints Need Sinners 6:20
11. Wings of Light 4:27
12. Genesis Of Time 9:06

Band members
Aura Dănciulescu – lead vocals
Mihai “Myke D” Dănciulescu – guitars, vocals
Rene Nistor – bass, vocals
Matthias Klaus – drums