"Let Battle Commence" is the 3rd studio album released in 2003 on Dragonheart Records by Italian doom metal band, DoomSword. The line-up for the album was Deathmaster (vocals), The Forger (guitar), Guardian Angel II (guitar), Dark Omen (bass) and Wrathlord (drums).
DoomSword didn't take long to get back into the studio after the release of 2002's "Resound the Horn", and just a year later the Italian heavy metal outfit is back with their third offering, "Let Battle Commence". This was the debut of new bassist, Wrathlord, who took over from Grom.
The album starts out with "Heathen Assault", at first an acoustic number with male operatic vocals before the guitars kick in. The melody is incredible rising from slow and moving into heavy but the lyrics are a little confusing. Deathmaster is a very impressive vocalist but the problem most foreign singers have is their lack of understanding of the English language, using phrases that sound like they're translated directly from Italian into English. Don't let that stop you from listening, though, because this is a song that knows which buttons to press, which isn't easy to do with the heavy metal genre.
"In the Battlefield" begins with a doom-laden guitar riff that throws in a catchy hook for good measure. There is some really good music on this song and the thing I like the best about it is its ability to put the listener in the middle of a Viking war - almost as if you're on the battlefield yourself amidst the broken bones and battered bodies, fighting alongside your comrades for glory or for death. At the end of the song you can hear a battle horn and the sound of voices with the rain beating down on the battlefield. This is one of my favourite songs on the album, purely for its atmospheric portrayal of the life of a Viking warrior.
"Woden's Reign" is my favourite song on the album. I love the heaviness of the guitars which bring much happiness to my ears, but I also like the drums here which pound during the intro then go into a calm battle march beat before the chorus that is as powerful as anything I've ever heard. Deathmaster sings it with a lot of passion and is wonderfully backed up by the guitars, drums and bass in a slow-paced beat which gives it a sombre edge to the sound. The song breaks down in the bridge where there's a really heavy bass riff that I especially enjoy, followed by an intricate guitar solo before the final verse.
"Deathbringer" is up next, and the guitars which begin this song immediately make me think of early Paradise Lost. All that is quickly forgotten when the first verse comes in, which is a heavy doom sound that echoes around the room, especially in the guitar riff that seems to bounce even though it's almost depressing. Think Morrissey with a metal band and that is what you get with this song, and that's where I have a problem with what DoomSword are trying to achieve here. I do like the song structure but I don't enjoy how it drags on like it's tired of life and wants to end, with a few more verses to go. I almost wish the band had cut this in half or at least by a couple of minutes.
"The Siege" is a song that depicts the besieging of a castle in times of the Vikings. The intro is excellent, but then what strikes me is that I think the vocalist is bringing the quality of the music down a little. He's a competent singer, no doubt about it, but a song like this (and songs previously) could have sounded better with a vocalist that has a bit more venom in his voice, if that makes any sense. In fact, if this song had been an instrumental I'd probably have loved it - even more than any other on the album - but then again the same could also be said of other songs.
"Blood Eagle" is a song based on the Nordic legend of torture and subsequent execution that was brutally barbaric. It involved cutting ribs at the spine, breaking them, and then pulling out the lungs via the wounds in the back. Whether this ritual actually happened is debatable, but the Vikings were known to be a fierce and bloodthirsty race. Musically, the song is a tough one to call. It's good for the genre, but it doesn't quite have the guts needed for a song to depict the story. It practically ambles along at the same pace throughout, and that's quite disappointing from my point of view. Even when the solo comes, it's still laborious.
"My Name Will Live On" ends the album and it's a song which I like quite a bit. The harmony works unlike some of the previous songs on here and even the vocals fit the track like they should. It's a song that tries to be better than what it actually is, though. In that, I mean that if you're going to have an epic album you're going to want a grand finish to it all, but it just falls short of doing that. If I had to criticise it, I'd say that the bridge is a little too bland, with the same riff being played over and over.
In summary, I had high hopes for this album, but I'm struggling to sway one way or the other on it. The vocals are a very important part of a band, and while Deathmaster is a great singer, his operatic style doesn't really fit this genre of music. You almost want some growls in there or someone with a gutsier sound. Unfortunately, this singer is one-dimensional and just doesn't catch the ears the right way.
1. Heathen Assault
2. In the Battlefield
3. Woden's Reign
5. The Siege
6. Blood Eagle
7. My Name Will Live On
My rating: 5/10