Battle Beast at University of London Union

Support: Cyhra
November 30, 2019 at University of London Union
Promoter: Master Events

Rising stars of the European power metal scene, Finland’s Battle Beast did their cause a lot of good in March when they released their fifth studio album No More Hollywood Endings to widespread critical acclaim. Following a one-off sold-out performance at The Dome in London in April, a full UK tour was announced for November 2019 to promote the new album, which included a performance at ULU in London. For a band who play a style of music which is far more associated with popularity on the continent than on these shores, Battle Beast’s rising stardom in the UK is not something to be overlooked. Even for those who had not been hooked in by the band’s recent output, Battle Beast came to their most extensive UK tour with a reputation for translating their fun fast-paced music into an equally fun live show designed to entertain as much as possible.

Opening the show for them was Swedish melodic metal supergroup Cyhra, comprised of singer Jake E (ex-Amaranthe), guitarists Jesper Strömblad (ex-In Flames) and Euge Valovirta (ex-Shining) and drummer Alex Landenburg (ex-Annihilator). Despite the big names involved, Cyhra have yet to make much of an impression on the UK; though it’s fair to say that they did themselves plenty of favours with this performance. Although they looked slightly awkward on a much smaller stage than they have previously been used to, they were still able to put on a show of real presence and dynamism. Jake E in particular relished the opportunity to be the main man, and delivered both as a frontman and as the very talented vocalist that he clearly is. Though their musical output is far from groundbreaking, it is also very accessible high-tempo heavy metal with plenty of memorable hooks and choruses and more than the occasional guitar solo. Cyhra weighted their set to promote their second album No Halos in Hell, though with just the two albums to their name it never felt as though they were in danger of running short of quality material to play. Cyhra served as terrific openers overall, getting the crowd going and upping the energy levels in the room substantially; and you would have to expect that if their prestige continues to grow, they will be back as headliners fairly soon.

As high-energy as the support act undoubtedly was, a band like Battle Beast was always likely to take this to the next level; and in terms of pure showmanship, they brought their A-game. Although it was a fairly small venue, the stage was just big enough for them to fit all six members on and still allow them enough room to move around the space. For no-one was this a more necessary part of the performance than for lead singer Noora Louhimo, who bounded up to the front of the platform for the opening track ‘Unbroken’ like it was her first time on stage. Dressed in a battle warrior outfit complete with black horns, Louhimo never stands still for a moment and is always encouraging the crowd. Moreover, her immensely powerful vocals sound every bit as impressive in a live setting as they do on record. The same can be said of the rest of the band too who all put in very accomplished performances and allowed the diversity of the songs from No More Hollywood Endings to really flourish. Classic power metal songs such as ‘Straight to the Heart’ and ‘The Golden Horde’ are received just as well as the heavily AOR-influenced ‘Endless Summer’.

In the typical fashion of bands of Battle Beast’s ilk, the songs were accompanied by a lot of stage antics, with bassist Eero Sipilä taking over crowd interaction duties while Louhimo took a break between songs. When these antics included bringing on a electronic drum machine with a big bottle of gin attached to it, you know that this is a band who do not take themselves overly seriously; and this sense of fun was by far the most enduring aspect of the band’s performance. Musically speaking too, Battle Beast gave exceptionally good renditions of their tracks, picking heavily from their newer material, with the highlight coming with ‘Eden’, which provides a more melodic twist to the band’s sound and soared out through the audience brilliantly signalling the end of the main part of their set. Fortunately, the London crowd still had three further songs to enjoy as the band returned to the stage with the recognisable riffs from the title track of No More Hollywood Endings. This was accompanied by even more smoke and spark machines, which had accompanied the band all evening before they rounded off with the epic ‘Beyond the Burning Skies’. The success of shows like this are a clear demonstration of why Battle Beast are the rising force that they are in European metal. They put together a set which perfectly balanced spectacle and musicianship, and which they were able to combine for a thoroughly entertaining evening.

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