BATTALION - review added 11th March 2010
Album Review: Underdogs (2010)
For fans of: Thrash... and interesting album art
The first thing that strikes you about this debut album from Swiss band Battalion is the artwork. Underdogs is not a release aimed at small children. If you like your LP covers to err on the side of gore and give a subtle nod to Megadeth albums of old, this'll be right up your street.
The music references Dave Mustaine and co. too. Battalion - Cyril Etzensperger on guitar, Samuel Riedener on drums, Silvan Etzensperger on vocals and guitar, and Lukas Marti on bass - wear their influences on the torn flesh of their sleeves. This album is thrash through and through, although it does have a weight behind it sometimes missing from other über fast metal acts.
It isn't what you'd describe as utterly brilliant, but it's all decently enjoyable. Opener 'Thrash Maniacs' kind of sums the album up. It's as quick as a cheetah with a lit a*se and nods to Slayer, Metallica and more. The more controlled 'Headbangers' has cool drum beats near the start, and the chorus has big potential for sing-along pleasures on the live stage. 'Running Alone' is back to full speed and old-school style. If someone told you this was recorded in the mid 1980s it wouldn't be a huge surprise.
'Wings Of A Demon' throbs along nicely and reminds me of old Overkill, albeit with a less characterful (if still good) vocal. 'T.F.F.M.' is what The Clash would sound like if they were genetically spliced with Manowar. Again, it's a fine song although unexceptional. 'Bullets & Death' is a shout-athon with an epic slower section in the middle. It's all very Metallica-esque. 'Stalingrad' has plenty of charm. It's not massively original, but it is a bloody good listen.
'Interlude' is a brief, soft instrumental piece that leads into the violently thrashy 'Beggars Rights'. There's a definite flavour of Motorhead to the track, and that flavour gradually heads more towards the sounds of Iron Maiden as the song progresses. 'Dictators Of Stone' clonks along pleasantly and demands head banging from start to finish. Final track 'Defenders' is pure Judas Priest Vs. Manowar. It makes me want to don studded leather and ride a motorbike somewhere I can fight a dragon with a broadsword.
Underdogs is a strangely enjoyable album. You've heard it all before, there are few if any truly outstanding songs, and it doesn't have a lot of refinement to speak of...so maybe it's the album's simplicity and honesty that makes it appealing. The members of Battalion are only in their early twenties. I don't see their music taking over the world, but it certainly deserves to be heard by a wider audience.
Check out... all of it.