Review Summary: No more of this, please.
Battle Beast have never been the deepest band in metal. That much is so patently obvious when one listens to even their earliest material. From day one, their modus operandi was to have all the giant hooks and catchy licks at the forefront of the product, but the backbone of their music was still an 80s metal charm and vibe, and it helped that their songs were so infectiously catchy that you couldn't help but go wild at them. Even as time went on and metal became less and less of a priority for them, there was still a noticeable grit to the proceedings, and it propelled them upward in the metal world at a greater speed with every album. Now, almost a decade after they first started gaining the attention of the metal masses, for some completely inexplicable reason, Battle Beast decided to remove just about every last bit of attitude from their music and become a full on pop band with No More Hollywood Endings, which was just about the worst choice they could possibly make because now their music sucks.
Everything about this album just feels manufactured. It's as if you got a group of 50 people who only listen to bands that appear on the main stage at Wacken and asked them what they like in a metal band, and then wrote an entire album based on their answers. There's no urgency to anything happening, it's all extremely safe and shallow, much more so than usual. The guitars are content to just chug along doing nothing of note and then switch to big fat chords for the choruses, the drumming is ultra static with almost no flair or flash to them, the bass just mindlessly follows the guitar the entire time, the keyboards are extremely in-your-face and over the top because there are still people that eat that *** up in 2019, and even the vocals, the obvious focal point of every Battle Beast song that has ever existed ever, are very obviously toned down from before. Noora Loumiho's insane, Halford/Udo-meets-Doro wails have been the main driving point of the band ever since she joined for the self-titled album in 2013, and whoever was writing these songs clearly missed the point of having her in the band in the first place by making her sing without any real power to her voice. She still belts like a banshee every once in a while, but those moments are few and far between here, as on this album she's just another interchangeable female metal singer that could be from any run-of-the-mill symphonic/gothic group that's existed the past 15 years. Almost every song hovers around four minutes in length, the tempos are all relatively identical, there's no surprises at all with the structure of the songs (although Battle Beast songs have always been rather samey in structure, these songs are even more banal and predictable than those of albums past), and the whole thing seriously feels like a band that has no real idea what it wants to be anymore, to the point that part of me is convinced that the band (or label) brought in outside songwriters to help craft this album, because it's hard for me to believe that they got this bad this quickly.
It's just so frustrating listening through No More Hollywood Endings and hearing all the bad decisions being made. From the awful farty synth of Unfairy Tales (which, by the way, is a song title so cringeworthy that Metallica winced a little), to the obvious bloating of Raise Your Fists to get it over 6 minutes long, to the very obvious pandering on the part of the band by still including scant metal elements throughout, plus one full on power metal song in The Golden Horde that's technically good but just feels so disingenuous in its inclusion on the album, to what sounds like ***ing turntables in the intro to Piece of Me, just about everything on this album was an exceptionally poor choice on the part of the band to expand outside of just the people who know who they are because the video for Black Ninja got 10 million views on Youtube. This is particularly noticeable in the three terrible, horrible, no good, very bad ballads that were included here. I Wish sounds like a bad movie credits song from the 90s, what with its overblown movie score orchestra and almost complete lack of electric instruments outside of two small lead lines in the middle and end. It also just kind of stops, as if the band just couldn't think of a good ending and gave up. Bent and Broken, one of the bonus tracks, is pretty much entirely a song that exists through padding, as its bridgy chorus part where Noora just repeats the song title over and over again happens three times throughout and eats up a full 90 seconds of runtime. Mind you, this song is only 3:51 long, so almost half the song is just this one, boring, repetitive section. And then there's Endless Summer, which, depending on the commercial success of this album, may end up being to Battle Beast what Radikult was to Morbid Angel; That is, a song so unimaginably awful that it seriously damages the credibility of the band's brand name simply by existing, and they'll have to do some serious work to recover from. There is no metal to be found in Endless Summer. There is not even any rock to be found in Endless Summer. It's a radio pop ballad love song loaded with major keys and shiny ass synth pad boops and bops. It's about the furthest thing away from what Battle Beast used to be, and it just sucks. For a band that used to be so good at mixing super catchy hooks with a heavy metal attitude, this is just an embarrassing display of pedestrian pop rock nonsense.
I really, really hope this is not the direction that Battle Beast decides to move forward with after No More Hollywood Endings, because this album is a monumental misfire on just about every possible level. The fun in this band was the mix of ultra-catchy pop music sensibilities with a serious heavy metal attitude and energy right out of the 80s. They always knew how to keep that balance relatively equal on past albums, but now they've gone way, WAY too far in the wrong direction and have sucked all the good parts out of their music, with whatever's left over feeling forced and unwanted by the band. I do not understand what compelled them to do this, aside from chasing the mainstream success they have obviously wanted from the very beginning, but there were much better ways of going about doing it than making something like this. They have become Sabaton but with a girl singer. They're all sizzle and no steak, and it's unseasoned at that. Time will tell if they can recover from releasing something this awful out into the world, but considering that No More Hollywood Endings is the culmination of a couple albums of declining returns on investment for Battle Beast fans all over the world, who really knows at this point. I can't imagine it getting worse than this, though, so I'll take some solace in that and hope they don't prove me wrong in the future.