Written by: GR on 07/03/2010 21:43:01

Just take a look at that album cover. The Ed Repka-like artwork, the Testament and Metallica inspired logo. It screams one thing loud and clear - old-school thrash fucking metal. It won't come as a surprise, then, to discover that's exactly what Battalion delivers on debut album "Underdogs". Hailing from the federation of neutrality that is Switzerland, they formed back in 2006 and have been through the usual process of demo tapes and member changes to reach the point where their youthful thrash vision has been realised on CD.

I've been taking quite a few thrash bands for review of late and I must admit when the promo disc dropped through my letterbox I didn't have the highest of hopes for Battalion. Not that I had already decided whether they were any good or not, just that there are so many young thrash bands doing the rounds at the moment that the chances of hearing something better than average aren't particularly high. I'm happy to report that whilst Battalion score a big fat zero for originality, they get a much higher one for listening enjoyment and certainly keep their heads above the stagnant surface of the forgettable lake marked 'mediocrity'. Kicking things off with a song entitled "Thrash Maniacs" - a catchy little ditty that's as subtle as its name suggests - lets anyone still unsure of what Battlion deals in know they are in for a damn good thrashing. Despite being the type of song that any fan of the genre has heard a million times and everyone else will probably roll their eyes at and turn off, I can't help but enjoy its simple pleasures. The same thing can be applied to much of the album: catchy riffs, gang vocals and shredding solos are all present and correct in a sound that comes straight from the 80s.

Where Battalion tick all the right boxes, in my mind at least, is the song-writing department. They may have kept themselves restricted by the boundaries of the genre for the most part, but have a real appreciation of how to effectively deliver a tune that will stick in the mind. That's the biggest accolade I can give these guys - songs such as "Wings Of A Demon", "T.F.F.M." and "Bullets & Death" have been stuck in my head since the first listen to "Underdogs" and are the kind of tracks that I just know would be excellent in a live environment. Battalion also show they're not entirely a one-trick pony with the epic and reflective "Stalingrad" - German spoken word section and all - and the traditional metal gallop of album closer "Defenders". In fact, the record as a whole shows the band are clearly influenced by straight-up heavy metal as well as the obvious thrash cornerstones, particularly when the vocals venture into 'proper' singing territory. With the 'thrash revival' having been raging for the last few years, the sheer amount of records being released in the genre means a band offering a sound so unoriginal is going to struggle to reach the very top end of our grading scale. Battalion have, however, written a bunch of tunes of high enough quality for me to give them a solid recommendation to fans of the old-school. If they ever make it over to the UK for a tour, I'll be there banging my head.


Download: Wings Of A Demon, T.F.F.M., Bullets & Death
For the fans of: Metallica, Sacred Reich, Megadeth, Death Angel
Listen: Myspace

Release date 26.02.2009
Silverwolf Productions

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