With Battlecross’ upcoming album, Rise to Power, set to drop on August 21, I decided that now would be a good time to revisit one of the more enjoyable thrash albums I’ve picked up in the last two years. War of Will was the third release from the Michigan natives, and is a ton of fun all around. We all know what we’re going to get from thrash: relentless aggression. It’s not the most complex of the genres, but it definitely has its time and place. And when that time comes, War of Will is the perfect match.
Somehow these guys have been around since 2003. Over that time, they’ve cranked out a relatively slim three albums, with War of Will being the most recent, in 2013. What’s interesting, however, is that Battlecross didn’t release any full-lengths until Push Pull Destroy in 2010. Since signing to Metal Blade the next year, they’ve been far more active, with the aforementioned fourth album set to drop in about six weeks. And have they ever used that activity effectively—playing numerous shows and festivals across the globe in recent years.
As a result of all this, I didn’t discover Battlecross until War of Will’s release two years ago. I happened across an affordable ticket to the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival (which is way more annoying to type than ‘Wacken’… no wonder domestic festivals suck in comparison) and decided these guys were worth checking out. Middle of the day… summer… THRASH… it all sounded too perfect. Besides, Kevin Talley played drums for them, and he’s never worked on a project I didn’t enjoy. Well, long story short, they didn’t disappoint. I went to their meet and greet and the show and the next day I found myself snagging this gem at Bull Moose used for, like, seven bucks. Totally worth it.
So what about the album, you say? (What, you don’t like my life stories? That’s just too goddamn bad.) The album itself is furious from start to finish in an almost light-hearted way. Weird, right? What makes it so enjoyable is both the upbeat cadence and the way you can really feel how much fun the band is having playing these songs. It was apparent live, and it’s apparent on record. It’s ten songs and just 37 minutes, but not a second is wasted. From the opening lines of “Force Fed Lies,” you know you’re in for a barrage of punishing rhythms and leads, all fused together by the percussion. But the blend of these crushing riffs with melodic leads, evidenced best on the like of “Flesh & Bone” and “My Vaccine,” is what makes this so damn catchy. Oh, and the transition from high-pitched shrieks to deeply bellowing barks on the vocals only adds to this element. It’s a whole lot of thrash elements all compiled in one well-constructed package. They consider themselves “blue collar thrash” and that is an absolutely legitimate description based on what lies in War of Will.
Yes, you’ll appreciate every minute of this ferocity just as I have. It’s not the most serious album in the world, but it’s not cheesy either. It’s just the right level of simple enjoyment. The technicality of the leads on the likes of “The Will to Overcome” and “Never-Ending Night,” for example, mixed in with everything we traditionally love about thrash, all makes for an album you put on and immediately start looking for something to break. Or all the things to break. I just don’t encourage listening to this while driving. It can get aggressive. But that works for me. Enjoy.
“Ein Bier… bitte.”