Battlecry, the newest album by Two Steps from Hell, was released on April 28th. Now that I’ve had time to listen through the album several hundred times (or at least fifty) I’ll give a rundown of the top ten tracks. Overall, Battlecry was fantastic and lived up to all my expectations. It couldn’t beat out Sun for my favorite album, but it is a worthy addition to the TSfH legacy. It’s very much a throwback album, in that the overall tone is reminiscent of their earliest releases, such as Invincible, with a largely heroic, epic feel (as opposed to Miracles, which was mainly soft and beautiful, and also different from albums like Illusions and Sun, which are chiefly filled with niche music – some tribal or cultural, others ethereal or indescribable).
There are 26 tracks; I’ll count down the top ten – all of which are must haves.
Now, without further ado…
#10: “Release Me”
“Release Me” is a great track, with strings providing a large portion of the background to produce an almost frenetic backdrop for a straightforward vocal, french horn, and string chorus that is pushed forward by a french horn harmony.
#9: “Across the Blood Water”
A powerful track driven by a rhythmic beat. The feel of the music is Viking-esque, and the pounding rhythm brings to mind a longboat of raiders keeping in time with their oars. This was one of those tracks that didn’t originally impress me, but which grew on me the more I listened. Now, it’s one of my favorite on the album!
#8: “None Shall Live”
This is a bracing song that slams you back in your seat from the very beginning. It’s filled with synthesizers, and a hectic flurry of strings provides the cornerstone for the rest of music to build upon. It’s also been recently released as a single, extended, vocal version featuring Two Steps from Hell regular Merethe Soltvedt under the title “Children of the Sun,” which is also fantastic.
#7: “Stronger Faster Braver”
“Stronger Faster Braver” starts out soft with some light flutes and chimes, but it slowly builds into an awesome french horn melody that ultimately becomes a potent horn/vocal combination punctuated by electric guitar.
#6: “Cannon in D Minor”
A swashbuckling track that sounds like it was pulled straight out of a pirate adventure, “Cannon in D Minor” features a largely horn chorus with heavy percussion and string additions.
#5: “Star Sky – Instrumental”
As the title states, this is the instrumental version of “Star Sky” which is also on Battlecry. The vocals from “Star Sky” have been removed for the instrumental version, leaving an orchestral masterpiece of horns, strings, flutes, percussion, and bass. The leading violin in the melody is absolutely gorgeous.
A heavy piece with notable strings (as both the backdrop and melody in some areas), horns, and trombones. The bass provides a smashing harmony in the background, and Bergersen (who I assume put this one together, but it could have been Nick Phoenix) pulls out all the stops with the horns on this one, really allowing them to let loose. A vocal choir comes in to put the finishing touches on the high points.
#3: “Star Sky”
The original version of “Star Sky,” vocal included. At first I was put off a bit by the vocals, but the more I listened to it, the more I liked it! Now, I prefer it to even the instrumental version.
#2: “Flight of the Silverbird”
“Flight of the Silverbird caught my attention from the beginning. It starts out slow and beautiful with a marvelous flute solo, which transitions into strings, then horns, then electric guitar, and, finally, a combination of them all. Just magnificent.
And the winner is…“Victory”! Get it? Kind of ironic, really. Anyway, “Victory” comes to the table (or the ear) with everything. In fact, ever since I heard it it’s been battling it out in my head with “Black Blade” for my all-time-favorite Two Steps from Hell song. (Sorry “Heart of Courage” fans. It’s a great song, but it’s not my #1…or my #2 now. In fact, it’s my #4, because I have to sneak Protectors of the Earth in at #3!)
And there you have it, “Victory” comes in at #1 by a landslide, and easily secures itself a top three in my all-time-favorites. Battlecry proved itself as yet another Two Steps from Hell masterpiece. If you’d like to try their music, I’d suggest starting with their first album, Invincible, or pick up a copy of Battlecry! Albums by Two Steps from Hell include: Invincible, Archangel, Skyworld, Miracles, Illusions (Thomas Bergersen), Sun (Thomas Bergersen), Classics Vol. 1, Colin Frake on Fire Mountain, Halloween, and Battlecry.
How does my list match up to your favorite Battlecry songs? I’d love to hear everyone’s opinion.