October 23, 2013 | , | 4.25

Battlecross, War of Will

Battlecross: War of Will

War of Will is my first experience with this band of Michigan thrashers. Battlecross has apparently been tearing up the road for the last few years and have finally settled down long enough to release their third full-length album (and second for Metal Blade Records). And, I’ve got to tell you, I’m digging their blend of thrash, hardcore, Gothenburg-driven melodic death and a little bit of this and that — all delivered with an infectious and enthusiastic energy.

At times serving up vicious melodies from the old world and at others embracing their inner Black Dahlia Murder, Battlecross deliver a very approachable amalgam of influences. From the primary higher-end screams to the burly low end growls, the vocals match the searing lead work and pummeling rhythm shifts perfectly.There’s a great energy flowing from track to track (courtesy bassist Don Slater and Shannon Lucas on drums) that will have you pumped to take on the world by the time War of Will has wrapped up its 36 minute run time.

“Force Fed Lies” gets the album started off with a pretty standard thrash and burn attack that mimics the likes of In Flames. It’s not one of the strongest songs on the album, but is is catchy as hell and does just enough to pique your interest with memorable riff work and a solid rhythm. The even catchier “Flesh & Bone” keeps the head banging at full throttle with driving guitars, slick lead work (guitarists Hiran Deraniyagala and Tony Asta kill on this album) and pummeling drums. Vocalist Kyle Gunther is starting to bring in more of his hardcore-esque low end barks as the album progresses.

“Never Coming Back” is a full on modern thrash attack with plenty of aggressive vocal work and unrelenting drums. The riffage shifts and morphs on a whim, but with a smoothness that keeps the band plowing forward. I love the sense of urgency and infectious, pit-friendly swagger that Battlecross bring to the party. The guts of the album flies by with the anthemic (Amon Amarth inpsired) guitar work of “Get Over It” and its slithering rock vibe before the guys dive head first into bruising “Ghost Alive” and moody “Wage a War.”

Everything changes for the more violent when we hit the final two tracks on War of Will. The absolutely fantastic and testosterone fueled “Beast” will have you punching holes in the closest wall as it shifts from thrash to a more death/hardcore vibe. The guitars are suddenly that much darker and malevolent as Gunther lets loose with some ferocious scream/bark combos. I’m sure I’ll hear this song quite often on future trips to the gym. And don’t forget the dueling solos around the three minute mark. Album closer, “Never-ending Night” is a rager of a track with pile-driving drums and classic thrashing riffage. It’ll leave you itching for more head-banging and reaching for the play button.

Battlecross have themselves a sound here that is clean, aggressive and just downright fun as fuck to listen to. It’s not overly complicated music (though there are some seriously slick leads and tempo shifts peppering the album), but it’s performed beautifully and with an infectious amount of energy that just makes you want to get up and conquer the world. War of Will has been spinning in any musical device/player that I own for weeks now. If that’s not an indication of how kick-ass this album is, I don’t know what else to say.