Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pursuit of Honor - Battlecross - 2011

I've owned Battlecross' debut in its Metal Blade incarnation since Halloween. While I gave it a couple listens right away, it got pushed back in the shuffle of Goathwore, Exhumed, King Diamond et al that dominated much of my November. I pulled Pursuit of Honor back out a couple weeks ago and kick myself for letting it sit unplayed for even a single day. It's a great, rugged record. My pre-write-up ritual is something like this: on a day I plan to write, I take advantage of my fifty-plus-mile morning commute and play the record uninterrupted beginning to end, composing the bones of the review in my head, jotting notes on a pad in the seat beside me (no accidents yet, Progressive). A good indicator of my opinion of the album, positive or negative, is how many times I hear a killer riff/lead/song segment and have to grab the case to see what track is playing. With Pursuit of Honor, I lost count. Looking at my pre-dawn, highway-affected scrawls I see multiple notations of "Kaleb," "Deception," "Man of Stone," "Breaking You," "Rupture," "Leech," "Better Off Dead," "Misery" - basically the entire tracklist.

I don't know much at all about Battlecross but understand Pursuit of Honor is, more or less, a revamped new-and-improved version of their 2010 independent debut, Push Pull Destroy. I'm tempted to track down the original just for the sake of comparison and, above all, to add more Battlecross to my library. This is aggressive, groovy, death-flavored thrash with an undeniable melodic undercurrent - all complete with a nimble and dominant bass, courtesy of Don Slater, that holds its own with the stellar guitars of Tony Asta and Hiran Deraniyagala. Kyle Gunther's growled/screamed vocals come straight from the Swedish School of Death Vocal and balance well with the band's sound, all anchored to the extreme percussion of Mike Kreger (check out Ian Pfister's blog for a great interview with the rhythm section).

Pursuit of Honor succeeds as a great proper debut and a cohesive album with lots of high points. It may be a bit too cohesive, in fact, as, despite all my notes and multiple facets of each song I really, really enjoy; the little bass outro in "Push Pull Destroy," the riff dominating "Kaleb,"  the I was sent to make a point... vocals smack dab in the middle of "Deception," "Man of Stone"'s drums - there aren't necessarily any pullaway individual tracks that all-out distinguish themselves from the rest of the content. But when it's all good how can that be bad? It's not, by any means. While Pursuit of Honor is great, I am hoping that the follow-up will build upon the same foundation with a little more risk-taking, resulting in higher highs and an all-out classic record. While Pursuit of Honor is not in the same class with Havok's Time is Up, it is cut from similar cloth and exciting in the same manner, acknowledging and paying homage to classic influences while forging an exciting sound very much in the present.


  1. Awesome! I do recommend listening to the self-released "PPD" version to hear the differences, the major being a totally different vocalist.

  2. Ian - had no idea it was a different vocalist. I'll definitely seek it out. Just checked out your Top Ten today as well - really enjoying your blog. Thanks again!