Although Battleroar only began this side of the new millennium, their epic heavy metal sound is entirely rooted in the eighties, but has the advantage of hindsight in selecting the most effective acts to imitate for their battle-themed style, seeming to settle on that of Omen. I've always had an embarrassing soft spot for this sort of metal, and although I'd argue that it wasn't anything to do with the lyrics of conquest and glory, there's a little too much evidence for me to hold out such unrealistic hopes any longer. When I first heard this album I was immediately hooked, but prepared myself for disappointment: after all, the last time I was so instantly hooked on a band like this was when I first heard Saxon's epic 'Crusader' and instantly decided they would be one of my favourite bands from that point on, before being incredibly disappointed by all the other songs on that album that weren't that one, single good one. Fortunately, there was no such disappointment here, and Battleroar have the distinction of being my new favourite Greek band (they must be so proud).
This is essentially heavy metal in the classic style, without any of the bombastic symphonic elements that have taken over the genre in recent years, and thanks to a slightly cheap production job it even manages to sound convincingly dated, which I see as a complete bonus. It grants the guitars a nice, distinctive sound that avoids sounding too much like modern power metal, and the only drawback is that the drums sound rather tinny, especially when called in for heavy duty service in 'Mourning Sword' which unfortunately jeopardises that song, but the style only becomes a little Manowar-style pompous in the finale. Marco Concoreggi's vocals may take some getting used to as they're predictably stuck in the high end, but I can't imagine this music being more convincingly delivered through any other style. I repeat that it is fairly embarrassing just how much I love this variety of music, but I stand by my beliefs, despite knowing in my heart that I'm an idiot.
Any fans of classic metal from the likes of Iron Maiden, Manowar and Judas Priest in their better days would probably enjoy this, particularly as the Steve Harris gallop is replicated authentically and to great effect in 'Victorious Path,' and there's a great balance between more melodic offerings ('Megaloman') and harder, thrashing efforts ('Morituri Te Salutant') without the style ever seeming to vary to a distracting extent. Even the longer songs aren't too long, and while 'Egyptian Doom' is likely to lose some credibility points for falling back on all-too-predictable Egyptian-sounding lead guitars, its extended length allows for some nice rhythm changes somewhat reminiscent of Maiden's 'Powerslave,' only recorded twenty years down the line. The folk element isn't as present here apart from in the introductory song, making this a little more primitive than the band's later material, but for a modern equivalent of classic metal that gets all the ingredients right, you don't need to look any further than these Greeks.
2. Victorious Path
3. Egyptian Doom
4. Mourning Sword
7. Morituri Te Salutant
1. Swordbrothers / 2. Victorious Path / 3. Egyptian Doom / 4. Mourning Sword / 5. Almuric / 6. Battleroar / 7. Morituri Te Salutat / 8. Megaloman / 9. Berzerker