Tonight, I am at the Club Academy in Manchester, part of the University Students Union building and my first time here. Down in the basement, it’s a little smaller than I expected, but its dark and dungeonesque feel is perhaps very suited for tonight’s show of power metal.
A supergroup formed in 2017 with the name of Cyhra open the show tonight, comprising of Jake E Lundberg (Amaranthe), Euge Valovirta (Shining), Jesper Stromblad (In Flames), Alex Landenburg (Annihilator/Rhapsody) and Marcus Sunesson (Engel). The pedigree here is apparent and all though this is a new band to me, the members aren’t.
Entering the stage to the intro of “Blood Brothers” and cheers from the now quite full club Jesper appears to be missing but they launch into “Letter to Myself” the title song of the first album. They still sound awesome despite being a member down, several more tracks from the first album follow. With Jake periodically stopping to chat and goad the already energetic crowd up even more.
Halfway through and Jake mentions its Jesper’s birthday and sadly couldn’t be on the tour for some reason but gets the entire audience to sing happy birthday as the band videos it, quite a cool moment. The last half of the set kicked off with new track “Battle from Within” from the recently dropped No Halos in Hell album, they finished with ”Man of Eternal Rain” and “Out of My life”.
An obviously very talented set of musicians with stacks of experience, their brand of energetic, genre skipping metal captivated me and the crowd as they took over the stage. Leaning out over the monitors to encourage the crowd to cheer even louder. A more than capable opener for tonight’s headliners.
As I take my place in the photo pit the crowd are chanting for the last band, “Battle Beast, Battle Beast, Battle Beast, Battle Beast”, and as if not to disappoint plumes of smoke erupt from the stage and the backing track to “Unbroken” starts to play. Drummer Pyry Vikki is first on stage, standing behind his drums bathed in red light he salutes the crowd to a deafening cheer, Joona Björkroth and Juuso Soinio (guitars), Eero Sipilä (bass) and Janne Björkroth (keys) all run on next, to another round of cheers and applause.
More jets of smoke as the band kicks full on into “Unbroken”, as the smoke begins to clear we finally get to see Noora Louhimo, her unique vocals piercing through the smog. Adorned in her now trademark horns and dressed in what could almost be described as Amazonian battle armour all makes for an imposing sight. Standing on a plinth centre stage, hand and voice soaring high, the crowd screams again and she grins, Noora already has them where she wants them.
Currently touring to promote the new album No More Hollywood Endings released earlier this year, Battle Beast seem on a high at the moment having hardly stopped touring this last year or two. And it shows in their performance tonight as they charge around the stage. After a few songs from earlier albums, we are back on new material with “Endless Summer” a slower ballad to summer and long-lost days. Showing the full versatility of the current songwriting team.
Interspersing the songs with chat Noora and the boys engage fully with the now packed room while laughing and chatting with each other much to the fans’ delight as they respond in kind with cheers and more chants of the band’s name. Filling the set with mostly new tracks and the odd obvious crowd pleasure from older material they have the crowd singing along through almost the entire night. With plumes of smoke and jets of sparks complimenting the powerful vocals and screaming guitars.
This band from Helsinki, Finland certainly make an impression live, and just before they get into “The Hero” they introduce a new “invention” of theirs: the Disco Invader. “A bit more than just a stand for my Keytar!” announces Janne as Juuso runs off with it and he has to chase it round the stage. Finally gaining control, he plays the mounted lighted drum pads to much effect during “The Hero”.
If you want to know more, love high octane power metal, want to experience Noora’s amazing voice or are already a fan then go catch them on tour. They will be going on an extended tour next year covering more of Europe and America so there’s plenty of opportunity. And I’d highly recommend it, as I see these contenders for Nightwish’s crown playing much bigger venues very soon.
Pics by Drew Scott Photographic