Review by David Araneda
Artist: BATTLE BEAST
Album: “No More Hollywood Endings”
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: 22nd March 2019
- No More Hollywood Endings
- Unfairy Tales
- Endless Summer
- The Hero
- Piece of Me
- I Wish
- Raise Your Fists
- The Golden Horde
- World on Fire
- Bent and Broken (bonus track)
- My Last Dream (bonus track)
After two years, Finnish band BATTLE BEAST returns with their fifth studio record and second one since the departure of founding guitarist Anton Kabanen, who went to form label mates BEAST IN BLACK. After a solid “Bringer of Pain” (2017), which marked a turn towards a more commercial sound with plenty of pop elements, we have the task of analyzing their newest album entitled “No More Hollywood Endings”, released via Nuclear Blast Records. The band has managed to capture the attention of melodic metal fans, especially because of the unique voice and stage presence of young Noora Louhimo, one of the revelations of the last few years when it comes to female metal vocalists.
The album opens full of energy with ‘Unbroken’, a perfect blend of symphonic metal and eighties pop, which immediately brings up the diverse influences of BATTLE BEAST’s music. Noora‘s vocal performance is extraordinary, full of passion and power. The melody is contagious and so are the keyboard arrangements. Then we have the title track ‘No More Hollywood Endings’, featuring a keyboard riff that recalls the introduction of Black Diamond by Stratovarius but played in slow motion. It’s a very theatrical song and it was accompanied by a videoclip full of histrionics, in which Noora shines once more dancing and acting, showing how talented a performer she is.
Continuing with the other pre-released single, ‘Eden’ is again a song full of positive energy, very melodic and catchy. Although at times the sound of BATTLE BEAST feels a bit overloaded by the keyboards, the guitar work of Joona Björkroth and Juuso Soinio stands out in this track. ‘Unfairy Tales’, despite its relevant lyrics that deal with of the dangers of social media, musically speaking it’s a tribute to eighties rock that doesn’t convince me completely. And speaking of not convincing, ‘Endless Summer’ is a purely pop song and so overly kitschy that it will probably generate some discussion among the fans. I think it feels out of place, even in a melodic metal context.
The album recovers its breath with ‘The Hero’, a bombastic track that brings back that raspy voice of Noora that we were already missing. It’s a danceable song with clear influences from Bonnie Tyler and Michael Sembello, but on steroids and updated to 2019. Janne Björkroth, keyboardist, composer and producer of the band, shines in all his functions. ‘Piece of Me’ opens with a heavy, hard rock-inspired guitar riff, and Noora displays a more aggressive vocal approach, full of attitude. It’s an entertaining song, with funny lyrics and keyboard arrangements that add a playful and retro-futuristic touch to it. I hope they include it in their setlist to enjoy it in all its greatness.
‘I Wish’ is a ballad full of sentiment in which they included a real string section and dramatic orchestration that manage to stand out. The lyrics and the interpretation of Noora succeed at building a melancholic atmosphere, but in the end, it still feels like we’ve heard something like this before, missing a unique spark. ‘Raise your Fists’, from its solemn introduction makes clear that we’re in front of a battle anthem, combining the cinematic elements that define the epic power metal genre. On the other hand, it fails to surprise us, since at this point of the game that music style has been overexploited. It’s a correct track in general terms, but it leaves you waiting for more.
On the contrary, ‘The Golden Horde’ is one of the most interesting and surprising songs on the album. It opens in a misleading way with a keyboard sampler reminiscent of 90’s Eurodance but suddenly becomes an unstoppable cannonball of power metal, with all the precise ingredients: bombastic drumming, virtuoso guitar work, and a vocal line that is as melodic as powerful. The result is fantastic, and it wakes you up immediately like a kick in the head. To close the album, we have ‘World on Fire’, another song featuring a danceable beat and catchy melody, a cool galloping section, and the right amount of heaviness and energy to finish this record with a positive note.
“No More Hollywood Endings” is a somewhat patchy album that leaves me with mixed feelings. It begins in a very promising way, but little by little it loses power and freshness, recovering its charm and effectiveness only towards the end. I appreciate their effort to evolve and experiment with different sounds, but in this occasion they don’t succeed in all their attempts, especially when they swim too far from the style that has made them popular. In terms of production the album is flawless, and Noora confirms her place as the secret weapon of the band. The album contains at least six outstanding songs, but there are enough uninspired passages to make it feel a bit inferior to their previous releases.
BATTLE BEAST – “No More Hollywood Endings” videos: