Jan 282011

(NCS contributor BadWolf is back with another edition of “Think Local, Sound Global”)

The re-master is a quirky thing; nearly as tricky to successfully pull off as the re-recording or the dreaded lead vocalist swap. It takes guts to do any of them without a huge dedicated fanbase, and a keen ear to do any of them well.

Kudos, then, to Detroit’s underground metal standard-bearers Battlecross. They are at the moment re-mastering their self-produced debut, Push, Pull, Destroy, with new vocal tracks from a different lead singer, but no label to speak of backing them in any way.

Here’s the rub: the new versions of the songs sound amazing. That this band does not have more widespread recognition is a travesty. Battlecross have been playing in Michigan for years at events like Dirtfest and Ogrefest, as well as opening for bigger bands like Mushroomhead and The Faceless—ever sharpening their chops, as well as licking them. These guys are tighter than a nun, and often play right in the crowd just to make a point—they don’t mess around, they slay.  (more after the jump . . .)

Our heroes at MetalSucks have pioneered the coverage of a new wave of technical thrash with Revocation, Sylsosis, and Lazarus AD (I hear their new album sucks, a shame) spearheading the sound. Battlecross fit neatly in this category, but for my money I’d listen to them over any of those bands any day. The 80’s thrash greats are a part of the mix (Battlecross are known to cover both Slayer and Metallica with some frequency at live shows), along with the more refined rhythmic touches of Lamb of God, Machine Head, or Gojira. Add to that an in-your-face level of technicality and big, colorful melodies and you have some idea of the Battlecross sound.

The core members of Battlecross are guitar partners Tony Asta and Hiran Deraniyagale (who has filled in for fellow Midwestern tech-thrashers Woe of Tyrants). The two have been playing together since 2004 and write the sort of trade-off riff/lead patterns that make good bands into great bands.

Battlecross also may have one of the best rhythm sections of any band in recent memory. Drummer Mike Kreger, who has won local accolades at Michigan’s now-defunct metal institution Dirtfest, has some of the cleanest kick patterns this side of Vinnie Paul Abbot. Bassist Don Slater must be heard—he would not be out of place in a djent or European teth group. The space he is given in Battlecross lets him add an intense level of depth—the man’s tone vocabulary is excellent, and unlike some more well-known/celebrated metal bassists, he does not need gimmicky bends and slaps to remind the listener he exists, his shredding is proof enough.

The last piece is Gumby Gunther, the new guy. I’ve never seen him front for Battlecross in a live show (they have not played near me when I haven’t had prior engagements, but we’re working on that) so I cannot speak for his charisma or stage show, but his vocal performance is excellent and speaks for itself, especially on the re-mastered title track.


Battlecross are currently finishing their debut version 2.0, and looking for some sort of distribution. I am waiting with bated breath for a re-master, for once, and I think you should be, too.

UPDATE FROM THE EDITOR: For old and new fans of Battlecross, check out BadWolf’s recent interview with band members at this location.

20 Responses to “THINK LOCAL, SOUND GLOBAL: BATTLECROSS”

  1. Niek says:

    Just listening to that track. I was like: “hmm mediocre intro…”, but then the groovy bit kicked in and it started getting more ass-whooping ability. Not bad at all!

    • Islander says:

      Agree — this track got more and more interesting as it moved along, to the point when I was completely sucked in. Really inventive, invigorating, head-busting music.

  2. ThreeDee says:

    okay, so i was a fan of battlecross only because my friend marshall was the singer. im not a fan of the screaming shit that this type of music is usaually known for, but their music is rather amazing. im not a fan of this new guy, i think his voice is off a tad, and the other tracks that i have heard him sing, errrr yell, they just do not match what was done before. i think he has a long way to go, but as a whole, battlecross will go somewhere. the music is too good not too.

  3. Derf says:

    BX is a great band. Very cool guys too. I think Marshall was the better singer, but the new guy does have stage presence and is great live

  4. Aaron says:

    WOW. Good find, Battle cross is Pure fucking metal!

  5. Phro says:

    Holy crap!
    I waw totally prepared to not give a crap, since i generally don’t enjoy thrash, but that track was fucking awesome!

  6. Islander says:

    We just updated this post (at the end) to include a link to BadWolf’s recent interview of Battlecross band members. Good reading for people interested in learning more about this talented band.

  7. Prolifik says:

    As of yesterday, the mighty Battlecross has announced their signing to Metal Blade Records. Congrats to the guys and all the hard work was finally recognized! They definitely deserve the recognition. Highly technical musicianship with brutal, well written songs. Every member excels at their weapon of choice and they put on a great live show. Personally I welcome their distinct blend of metal, as the current state of metal is bogged down by bands that all sound very similar. Almost indistinguishable.

    I highly recommend checking these guys out, and am looking forward to the new album!

  8. […] we final checked in with Battlecross (here), Detroit’s excellent tech-thrashers, they were sounding tellurian though bogged down in local. […]

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