Battlecross: Pursuit of Honor

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Battlecross: Pursuit of Honor
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Battlecross: Pursuit of Honor
Power Metal, Thrash Metal
Metal Blade Records
August 2nd, 2011
Release length: 36:22
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Battlecross is a relatively new band that molds both Power Metal and Thrash Metal together, and given the response to their independent debut album Push Pull Destroy, they clearly did a fantastic job of it. The Warren, Michigan group formed back in 2003, and until that album in 2010, the group had yet to release anything outside a demo recording in 2005. With all that time to grow as a group, and given the fact that their debut full-length received a lot of positive press, having a follow-up recording roughly one year make sense, but at the same time it leads one to wonder what the quality of the material will be like, especially if you assume the band continued to write new material for seven years, and how much of this album were the songs they chose not to include on Push Pull Destroy. Either way, Pursuit of Honor makes for the group’s second full-length, and first on an actual label, having signed to Metal Blade Records.

Right off the bat, the production quality of the recording is about what you would expect for a metal band at this point. The quality comes off a little clear and digital, but it has a muddier, chunky sound to it that works well with the band’s aggression, but at the same time doesn’t really offer much to the final product. The album has a heavy bass presence against heavy sounding guitars that have an edge to them, but feel a little blunt due to the muddier quality. This doesn’t hurt the album, though it doesn’t help it much either. The drums sound great, are all leveled properly, and the kit takes advantage of the stereo sound of the recording with the cymbols, having distinct parts of the kit go through the left speaker, and other parts on the right, though the snares and bass kicks, which have a nice medium between a strong click and loud thud, are picked up through both. Vocally, the album meshes things together with a tactic that comes off a little more along the lines of screaming with a little rhasp, to a cleaner shouting approach.

For some reason, one of the things that stands out about this release is that the audio quality reminded me a bit of Deathrace King by The Crown. Pursuit of Honor starts off with an introduction that is well suited to an early Thrash album, an atmospheric acoustic piece that feels a little haunting with some keyboards and wind effects while the cymbols come in and “Push Pull Destroy” kicks right in. The energy of the band can be felt the second the track starts, and the music the group is playing comes off really tight. The material does seem to swap out between a more melodic Power Metal sound and an aggressive Thrash approach, but for the most part it feels more like a Thrash influenced Melodic Death Metal track. The furious song just hammers away at the listener from start to finish, not really letting go as it lunges for the juggular. This track does set up what to expect for the rest of the album, which is mostly intense, fast paced Thrash with a hint of melody to it at times.

“Push Pull Destroy” makes for a good track in the long run, but it’s far from the best that the album offers. “Man of Stone” is one of the more notable tracks, though it definitely does have more of a generic Melodic Death Metal sound to it. The track’s general intensity mixed with some heavier melodic elements makes for some catchy, mosh-worthy music that ultimately feels a bit epic at times in a sense of war. The bass on here also adds a nice touch as there are moments where the bass just dominates all the music and adds a whole other layer to the track, as if a bass solo out of nowhere, and it sounds damn good and refreshing to hear. “Leech” also takes a stronger, more serious Thrash approach along the lines of Slayer musically. The vocals are well ranged, and the music just has that commanding and authoritive approach to it that leaves the listener simply unable to resist the intimidation of it all. Granted the more melodic moments of the song that appear at the half way point, like the guitar solo that hits, kind of ruin it in the long run, but overall it stands out by matching that general aggression and intensity carried throughout the album. “Misery” also becomes a track worth mentioning for it’s energetic start that will immediately get the listener riled up while the track just jumps forward full speed with an intensity that cannot be overlooked and will leave you banging your head with fists pumping wildly in the air.

Other then that, there’s nothing much else to say about the album. It’s a solid effort and it never really let’s up on the intensity outside of “Man of Stone”, which is more a catchier track then anything. The rest of this release often just feels violent, and does a great job at establishing a strong aggression, though sometimes it feels a little restrained with the more melodic aspects of the band’s sound. It’s impressive, but at the same time there’s nothing that can really be said about it. Pursuit of Honor is just a furious Metal assault with maybe a few moments that give you a breather, like the random breakdowns that will occur through the album, ending with the same atmospheric instrumental on “Foreshadowing” that “Pursuit of Honor” started the release with, except much darker and an electric guitar is used instead of acoustic. There’s nothing really else to say other then to mention that this album is far from original. Pursuit of Honor is nothing more then the band’s debut album remixed with a new singer with an additional track at the end, which is nothing more then the darker “Foreshadowing” instrumental cut from the originally over seven minute version of “Misery”. This is actually confirmed through an album update request on the website Metal-Archives.com by one of the band members that the album should be removed from the discography because “we released a new version with a new singer and new mix for Metal Blade Records”. Whether this new mix means it’s completely re-recorded, or just remixed escapes me since I cannot find clarification, but this is something to take note, and in a sense also bothers me simply because it’s being marketed as a new album because of a new singer, which, again, brings up shades of The Crown with the re-recording and retitling of Crowned in Terror.

Overall, Pursuit of Honor is far from a bad album. Battlecross show a great deal of talent and make this album to be a tight and aggressive attack on the listener. There’s enough variety to keep the album spinning past the first time through, but at the same time it just doesn’t really have much of a bite in the long run to make the listener stand up and take notice outside a few tracks. This isn’t to say the majority of the album is bad, it’s just to say that it’s good but chances are you’ll just stand there saying it’s a great album and not really have anything much in particular to say for it. Even I am at a loss for words and I’ve gone through the album five times in row searching for anything really noteworthy. If you’re looking for a solid album, then Pursuit of Honor is worth a look. Battlecross present a great album here, despite it being the second time it’s being released, new mix and vocalist aside, and overall it does deserve your attention.

01. Pursuit of Honor – 0:38
02. Push Pull Destroy – 3:35
03. Kaleb – 3:40
04. Deception – 3:28
05. Man of Stone – 3:47
06. Breaking You – 3:56
07. Rupture – 3:49
08. Leech – 2:46
09. Better Off Dead – 4:11
10. Misery – 4:50
11. Foreshadowing – 1:42
Overall Score: 8/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Metal Blade Records.