Battlegrave’s debut EP, “To Hell With War”, releasing July 6th, is the culmination of two friends coming together to create an aggressive thrash sound, based on both their influences and the genre they both grew up with a strong passion for… Thrash! The EP follows the theme of war, and lyrically, it tackles subjects such as the money-hungry tyrants sending their soldiers to the slaughter; the invention of machines that plague the frontlines; the battles of the mind which haunt those who are lucky enough to return, and the story of the Anzacs who were willing to lay down their lives for our freedom.
Home grown right here in Australia, Battlegrave is the brainchild of lifelong metalhead, Clint Patzel (Guitar/Bass), who wanted to do a project with his friend, along with ‘metal tragic’, as Patzel labels him, Rohan Buntine (Vocals). Their idea was to write thrash metal that reflected their joint love of ’80s thrash, but above all else, wanting to be able to say they’ve created music together. Drum Credits on “To Hell With War” are given to Tim Shearman.
The distant humming of guitar welcomes us to the opening track, Decimation Draws Near. Purely instrumental, this track opens “To Hell With War” with an immediate atmosphere of chaos and darkness. Rounding out with the sound of air raid sirens, the theme of ‘war’ becomes somewhat apparent, and you know when those sirens start to bellow that all hell is about to break loose!
The chaos that was hinted at in the instrumental opening comes to full fruition in the EP’s title track, To Hell With War. With any album, once you hit the track in which the album is named after, there’s a certain expectation of said track, and this is no exception! Be it the thrashing of guitar or Buntine’s powerful pipes, To Hell With War is definitely a welcomed taste-test to what the band has to offer. Painting the image of soldiers as chess pieces being manipulated by power drunk leaders, this track is ominous in its delivery of how war is a cruel mistress.
Man, that opening riff! Battlegrave had me at the ready to stop writing this review, jump out of my seat, and get ready for absolute destruction! Aptly named, Mortar Fire tells the story of the creation of the mortar and the destruction that ensues with its use. Mortar Fire is painted in absolute chaos. Patzel lets slip the dogs of war and cries havoc on guitar, giving it an absolute thrashing, which lifts Mortar Fire to new heights. Buntine’s vocals are as chaotic as the instrumentals backing him. A brilliant blend of talent, painting vivid images of body strewn frontlines.
It Never Ends For Him touches on a topic associated with war that doesn’t get as much recognition as it warrants: Post-traumatic stress disorder (better known as PTSD). The battle within the minds of men who have returned from war, and find it hard to cope in the real world, is demonstrated through the thrashing of instrumentals and the growl of Buntine’s voice. The sudden sense of urgency and chaos that Patzel’s string thrashing lends to It Never Ends For Him elevates this track to new heights. Buntine and Patzel love thrash riffs and this track is definitely the deliverance of their love.
What would an Australian thrash album, built around the vivid images of war and its destruction, be without the inclusion of The Anzacs? We all know the stories that haunt the beaches of Gallipoli, the soldiers who valiantly laid down their lives to not only protect our country, but our ideals. Shearman opens this track with bellowing drum work, and Patzel joins in with the same tenacity he has lent throughout the entire album. There are moments within the track where Buntine’s vocals disappear, leaving behind the instrumental work of both Patzel and Shearman to be the real heroes of The Anzacs. What a tribute!
We Will Remember Them is not only a brilliant way to follow The Anzacs, but what a way to round out an Australian thrash album! These Melbourne boys are as true-blue as they come, and I absolutely love it! It opens with the same weary, chaotic ambiance that Decimation Draws Near created at the beginning of the album, making it come full circle. Buntine’s vocals aren’t as clear as in previous tracks, however, that does nothing but bolster the effect of the instrumentals which are backing him. Everything slowly fades to black and we’ve reached the end of our journey.
Buntine and Patzel wanted to ‘tick the box of being able to create something together’, and “To Hell With War” does more than tick all boxes… it absolutely destroys them!