Battlecross - Pursuit of Honour (Metal Blade/Riot)

Detroit thrashers with a new take on an old genre - or is it?
Release Date: 
1 Aug 2011 - 11:30pm

Battlecross . The name conjours up images of tight-trousered Italian buffoons trotting out some sort of overwrought templar-based power metal overkill.I must admit I was none too keen on having a listen, despite seeing the cover, a crusty Sacred Reich style pastiche that at least led me to believe there might be some thrash elements in their operatic nonsense to keep me interested. I slipped the record into the cd tray and noncommitally pressed play...

You know what? I was completely, utterly wrong. Battlecross, it would seem, love a bit of old school thrash and, spurred on by the frantic likes of Deception I decided to investigate further. It seems the band terms its take on thrash as 'Blue Collar Thrash', which is a pretty clever ruse as it allows them to tinge their basic thrash attack with some more modern-sounding drum work (courtesy of Mike Kreger, whose work is exemplary throughout) and some tasty death metal growling from the amusingly named Kyle 'Gumby' Gunther. The album is interlaced throughout with some scintillating guitar work from Tony Asta and Hiran Deraniyagala, and with all this marvellous individual musicianship going on you'd think this would be essential listening, right?

Well kinda. The fact is, although the individual parts all do a stellar job (and I guess we should mention Don Slater here, who does a solid job on the bass largely unnoticed throughout) on Pursuit of Honour, the whole too often falls just short to make this true must-have material. Every song features something worthy of note, but nothing truly makes you stop what you're doing to have a listen, with the sole, excellent exception of penultimate track Misery where Battlecross pulls everything together in fine style to create a rather splendid slab of eastern flavoured heavy metal nirvana. That said, I do keep coming back for repeated listens, so maybe Pursuit of Honour is one of those slow burning albums that repays a bit of persistance from the listener. Come back and ask me in a couple of months...