Album: Sunward and Starward
Label: CDN Records
Genre: Blackened Death/Folk Metal
Release Date: February 23, 2018
About a year ago I found a band on spotify called Battlesoul. I was shocked to see how few downloads their songs had after I listened to some of their songs and immediately became hooked. Battlesoul hail from Canada and produce an amazing mix of folk, black, and death metal that is unlike anything I have heard before and their fourth album is no different. I love music that experiments with the formula and this one is no exception, there is something for everybody in Sunward and Starward. It doesn’t matter whether someone is an old school heavy metal fan or a fan new to metal with no real preferences of genre carved out.
Track one, “All I Understand” begins with a thumping beat that grabs hold immediately, fast and precise with the guitars and vocals breaking into the fold. The song quickly turns into a beautiful cacophony of guitar riffs and echoed vocals which are very enjoyable with the percussive backbone of the song acting like a metronome keeping everyone on the same beat. Bearing the Word, the albums second track, starts off furiously with a sinister beat and growled vocals with an occasional switch into screamed vocals that change the whole song dynamic, when the vocals shift it sounds as if it were a voice lost within a snowstorm, while the growled vocals power their way center stage. Each different style of vocals acts as a separate actor upon a stage with the rest of the band providing a set for them to perform upon.
Arrival is the third track on the album and it shows a lot more black metal influence than the two songs before it. The song opens up with a flute which is a nice change, as it plays the rest of the band begins to play with it, as if they’re following its lead. This time around, the lyrics are delivered in a black metal esque growl, not with much weight but with an evil tone. The whole song comes off this way, not angry and sinister but more of a calm evil which they do astonishingly well, especially with the addition of an ominous female voice as the song fades. Totem is up next and is fast enough to almost be power metal, it has one of if not the best opening riff on the album. In this song the guitarist is the star and it’s a nice change. The vocals keep their black metal styling although with more force behind them and a constant switching between this and growling keep the song fresh and interesting. Totem also has one of the best solos on the album, and as quickly as the song began, it stops abruptly which is somewhat jarring.
Sunward and Starward, the title track begins and it feels like a foreboding monolith as the song begins. An audible assault that slows as the track continues on. The vocals are wailed in pain this time around and the song has an all around more blackened death metal sound this time. The whole song feels like a different band with the inclusion of female vocals that play with the male vocals and melding together greatly. The song is the longest on the album coming in at a little over seven minutes. The overall atmosphere sounds like the song is an epic voyage through space, with the colossal, oppressive percussion beating the listener into their seat, making them feel insignificant in comparison in much the same way as our own vast cosmos do.
The loss of sons picks up as the sixth track. The song is much doomier than the rest on the album, with a hypnotic, droning riff, wailing vocals, and percussion softer than the rest of the album. Azure Skies has a nice surprise with a return of the female vocals from track five, the whole song is really well rounded, with the band adding to what they established early on in the album. If the first half of the album was a demonstration, then the second half is the smoothing out of the greatness that came before. Azure Skies does feature something new though, the greatest solo on the album, piercing through the rest of the track to prevail as the star and the single greatest display of guitar expertise on the album, with great shredding that acts like a shot of adrenaline.The second to last track, so it goes, enters like a storm. Powerful riffs act as fast blowing winds while the crashing drums act as thunder and lighting cracking the sky and the vocals being a banshee lost within the winds. The whole song reeks of loss, probably the only sad song on the album but a stellar track nonetheless.
Break the day is the final song on the album, a bittersweet end but the power within the track is undeniable. Starting with a flute before transitioning to a slow and epic guitar, eventually leading into a fast paced attack fronted by the ever great vocals. The track is a culmination of everything great on the album and is the greatest song from the album for that reason. The solo of the song is the fastest and most epic on the album and serves as a transition into the second half of the song. The presence of sweeping grand vocals along with the mixed shrieks and growls provides an epic fast paced atmosphere that’s almost indescribable. Overall this is an amazing album. There are no bad songs on here and I would implore anyone to check it out. This is my favorite album of the year so far and I don’t see it moving from that position for at least a few months.
1. All I Understand
2. Bearing The Word
4. The Watcher
6. Sunward And Starward
7. The Loss Of Sons
8. Azure Skies
9. So It Goes
10. Break The Day
Total Playing Time: 51:59
The epitome of power metal and folk metal (although a big fan of doom too). You can catch me playing/writing for dungeons and dragons with my friends at the local tabletop game store.