The Batallion - Head Up High
Dark Essence Records
Blackened Thrash Metal
11 songs (38:04)
Release year: 2010
The Batallion, Dark Essence Records
Reviewed by Kyle

With Head Up High, Norwegian supergroup (of sorts) The Batallion finds itself in a bit of a sophomore slump. While the band’s debut album Stronghold of Men was one of the most gritty, energetic examples of blackened thrash I’d heard in recent memory, this new album possesses a little less potent brew of that boozy, masculine, irresistible concoction. Still, Head Up High is a fun, thrashy romp; However, if you’re searching for something that will sustain you, then move along, traveler. This album is suitable for a quick fix, but not much else.

While Head Up High isn’t as wonderfully gritty as its predecessor was, there are still some traces of evolution. This new album is more complex and certainly more melodic than Stronghold of Men. The complex riffs and time signature switch-ups of Undertakers makes it the highlight of the album, while the melodic guitar harmonies in the latter half of When Death Becomes Dangerous glow with a bluesy luster often found in 70’s hard rock bands. This old-school feel carries on throughout the album; The Batallion pays homage to the glory days of NWOBHM in many of its riffs and guitar solos.

Quality remains solid throughout yet rarely surprises, with the only exceptions aside from Undertakers being The Roaring Grandfather (which is a fucking awesome song title) and Bring Out Your Dead. The former is a slow, ominous piece of metal, the longest track on the album and very engrossing; the latter is one of the faster pieces on show, and a fantastic and energetic way to close out the album. Still, no matter how aggressive Head Up High can be, it doesn’t match the intensity of The Batallion’s debut. I’m also disappointed that the production is more polished on this record, and that the guitars and drums don’t possess the pounding power that they did on Stronghold of Men.

Perhaps the best thing about Head Up High (and The Batallion in general) is that listeners should know exactly what to expect and have their expectations fulfilled. Blackened thrash fans that have never encountered the band before should be in for a real treat; the album is fast and relentless, and the lyrics absolutely drip with confrontational attitude. If you haven’t listened to Stronghold of Men, I suggest you give that album a spin before trying this one; it’s more straightforward, and ultimately a bit better. Still, Head Up High is a natural progression for the band, and I found myself genuinely surprised that this album doesn’t share an exact blueprint with the previous outing.

Killing Songs :
Undertakers, The Roaring Grandfather, Bring Out Your Dead
Kyle quoted 76 / 100
Other albums by The Batallion that we have reviewed:
The Batallion - Stronghold of Men reviewed by Thomas and quoted 87 / 100
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