Battle Beast waste no time getting things underway, and the crunchy hard rock of Straight to the Heart is the perfect opening for this melodic and fun album. A simple, dry guitar riff drives the song but it is the keyboard backing, akin to 1980s Journey, that adds the sparkle. It is a strong mid-paced melodic rocker which channels Steinman-esque grandeur with great classic rock swagger. Louhimo i the star of the song and her gritty voice really drives the simple verses, before really coming alive in the anthemic choruses with their driving piano backing. The album's title track follows, and this is much heavier with a riff straight out of the NWOBHM songbook and a great wordless vocal opening which Louhimo a chance to show off her diverse vocal range with ease. The simple, gang vocal driven chorus brings to mind classic Accept. This is probably the album's heaviest song, and features a great display of power metal drumming from Vikki with precise double bass patterns and a strong sense of groove throughout. In classic 1980s tradition, the final chorus sees a dramatic key change which suits Louhimo's diversity perfectly. King for a Day, the album's first single, is more of a hard rock song but it really packs a punch. Sipilä's bassline drives the verses, which follows on for a simple guitar riff, but again it is Louhimo who dominates with a theatrical display. Not to be outdone, the band's two guitarists add plenty of subtle lead licks throughout which help to add melody and technical skill throughout what is at it's a core a very simple song. A synth solo replaces the traditional guitar solo part-way through, which really helps to emphasise that AOR vibe that hangs over the entire album. Beyond the Burning Skies is another heavy one, but it opens with a delicate piano intro that brings fellow Finns Sonata Arctica to mind. It soon explodes into another crunching guitar riff that is sure to see more than a few heads bobbing when it is played live. The keyboards provide that perfect melodic halo once again, which does take some of the metal 'edge' from the song but it helps to transport the listener back to the 1980s, which is what I feel Battle Beast seem to want to do! The chorus is one of the album's best too, with a fantastic soaring melody that just begs to be sung. Familiar Hell, another of the album's singles, is a sickeningly catchy song which has more than a little influence from 1980s disco music, but it just fits in so well with the band's simple riffing and the gritty vocals of Louhimo. This is the sort of music I can imagine Grace Jones making if she suddenly turned into a metalhead, as this song is one that you can really dance to. The chorus is a very catchy one too, with sugary vocal melodies a layers of keyboards which just ooze out of the speakers with ease. This is one of those songs that I am sure will have many metalheads scratching their heads and questioning their 'defence of the faith' - it is that catchy!
Lost in Wars sees the band doing something a bit different from the norm, and sees Battle Beast employing some almost-industrial influences throughout with a variety of synth tones and a lumbering Rob Zombie-esque stomp in the riffs. Tomi Joutsen (Amorphis) provides his distinctive mournful, but powerful vocals, to the song and he duets well with Louhimo. Silly spoken word parts, soaring melodic cleans, and even the odd burst of his crushing harsh vocals give the song a unique identity and makes it stand out from anything else in the band's catalogue. It is not as instantly catchy as many of their songs, but the haunting melodies and enveloping synths will get under your skin after a few listens. Bastard Son of Odin is another up-tempo metal tune, but with some of the cheesiest keyboard sounds heard for some time! The mix of these, along with a strong galloping guitar riff, are a great contrast and this is one song where the two sides of the band really seem to mesh together perfectly. Another strong chorus proves to be the song's centre point, but it is let down by some rather awful lyrics. In fairness, nothing that Battle Beast writes could be considered poetry, but this one is particularly bad! A shredding guitar solo, which is lengthy for the band's concise standards, is another highlight too and shows that the band members are probably better musicians than many would give them credit for. We Will Fight is easily the album's least-interesting song and is one that just seems to pass by without leaving much of an impression. It is not a bad song per se, it just shows there are much stronger songs elsewhere on this disc. It is a bit of a plodding number and never really gets going. Dancing with the Beast is fantastic however and might just be my favourite song on the album. It has a similar disco vibe to Familiar Hell, but ramped up even more with even more of a pop influence. Not the modern pop influence that Amaranthe promote, but Bad Animals-era Heart with a massive 1980s influence with a rhythmic feel and synthetic-sounding drums. Layers of synths dominate, but again a few guitar leads are thrown in to remind you that are indeed listening to a heavy metal record! The chorus is fantastic too, and I see this song becoming a staple and a favourite of their live sets. Far From Heaven, the album's closing number, is a proper lighters-in-the-air power ballad which I expect Bonnie Tyler would do a fantastic cover of! It is piano driven, but it one of those songs that builds up as it goes along and ends in a heavier climax with Louhimo's gritty, but soaring, vocals really gripping hold and refusing to let go. For such an upbeat album, it may seem odd to end on a ballad, but I think it works really well. The ballad also suits the vibe of the album too, as many of the best 1980s rock/metal albums would have included at least one power ballad! Overall, Bringer of Pain is another solid entry in the band's strong discography and shows that Battle Beast is more than just a vehicle for one man's songwriting. The 1980s vibe has been pushed even further here, and I suspect we shall see more of this in the future!
The album was released on 17th February 2017 via Nuclear Blast Records. Below is the band's promotional video for King for a Day.