Cruz Del Sur
Manilla Road may have lost their key guitarist and prime architect Matt Shelton, but Greece’s Battleroar prove that the spirit that lied within their brand of epic heavy/power metal continues on through the ages. With their fifth full-length Codex Epicus, there is definitely an air of Manilla Road worship and all the greatest parts of it. With a decidedly crisp, yet classic feel in the production value; this hour-long mixture of bombastically epic soundscapes and thundering heavy metal entwined with slight acoustic moments proves that this genre is far from faltering. The album is composed of nine tracks, most of them being over the five-minute mark and sometimes encroaching a bit over the seven-minute mark, which is common for what many would say is a doom influence. Yet in this time, much is explored in the way of texture and listeners are getting far more than a simple verse/chorus from much of the album. Opener “We Shall Conquer” does a phenomenal job of showcasing that, with its might being displayed to the listener right from the start. “Sword Of The Flame” might not be the most punchy, but it comes with a pulse-pounding solo effort that listeners will surely remember. “Chronicles Of Might” is a bit more pompous, particularly in the chorus; but we should expect nothing less. I didn’t expect a solo section to hit there to be honest, but it certainly beefs up and already monumental piece, especially when the choir backs the solo. How much more epic can you get? Where are those classic D&D comic reprints I bought last month? This record would be a great to jam while reading them.
Then we get to “The Doom Of Medusa” which is by far one of the fiercest tracks here, further embodying the “epic” nature of this album. In life, few things are as grandiose. “Palace Of The Martyrs” keeps the mood along with “Kings Of Old” which shows that Codex Epicus doesn’t intend to pull any punches – or does it? As we continue listening, an unexpected bit of flute playing opens up arguably one of the greatest epics here, “Enchanting Threnody” which is a phenomenal way to top it all off. But Battleroar didn’t want to leave us with just seven tracks and an instrumental intro, because they manage to pull off one more killer cut with “Stronghold” which ends the album on just an epic note as it began. If you’re looking for the sound of true to form classic heavy metal majesty without a sign of core to be had, then you need look no further than Codex Epicus. I would say “they don’t make them like this anymore” but with this record and a few others I’ve been jamming over the past few weeks, I beg to differ in the most thankful of ways. Sure, modern sounds will continue to mutate in order to fit modern trends, but there’s nothing trendy or modern about this one. Battleroar have crafted a classic epic heavy metal record with all the trimmings of doom in an era that has long since passed the monstrosity that was dubstep. To me, that is monolithic. The fact that classic sounds can still be performed with as much merit and precision as the originals released nearly three decades ago. While it is still unclear as to whether or not Manilla Road will continue (and I do not think they should considering all the releases that they’ve given us, as well as the fact that the progenitor died and I’d hate to see them end up like GWAR, which is still arguably missing the politically incorrect wit and humor of David Brockie) we still have acts like Battleroar to show us that the classic sound is far from being vanquished by the barbarian hordes.
(9 Tracks, 54:00)
Purchase HERE (Bandcamp)