ARTIST: The Battles Of Winter
RELEASE: At Once With Tattered Sails
RELEASE DATE: 23 September 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Post-Rock, Post-Punk with a bit of Alt-Rock and Indie thrown in you say? Well, ‘The Battles of Winter’ reply swiftly and smartly with their brand new album ‘At Once With Tattered Sails’. In what could be the most well produced album I’ve heard from a non-major label in quite a while, the band weave through many sounds to create a dark and atmospheric post-punk album; helped substantially by the amazingly deep and heavy vocals of the album.
‘At Once With Tattered Sails’ begins with ‘Falcons’ an eerie, post-punk laden track with an intro that uses a slower tempo styled post-punk beat that eventually leads into a hypnotically dark coldwave inspired chorus. ‘Falcons’ sounds like a twisted indie song, full of elements that you could imagine being bright and colourful, turned into a cynical, industrialised landscape. This morphed indie track suits the band profusely though, and a song like ‘Falcons’ does nothing but display the bands most talented tendencies. ‘Hale Seizer’ (see what they did there?) goes even deeper into a perverse darkness, this time with much more minimalist instrumentation, until the rollicking noise rock inspired chorus. This track begins to showcase the deep and thought provoking lyrics, which would not be so out of place if they were read as poetry. The rattle, twangy guitars at the tracks second half maintain a distinctive 80’s coldwave feel, connecting the band back with its musical and artistic roots. The brilliant, two minute punky song ‘Wrong Port’ shows the listener that the band are not solely tied to slow, downtempo, strumming… Rather they show their talent in pulling off what seems to be a much darker, sped up version of an Opera Multi Steel song.
‘Hare Hunter Field’ could be the best song on the album, its slow, quiet beginning seeps into an almost slowcore ballad… The vocals hover spectrally in the mix, as the slow tap of the drum slowly shift, the guitars echo slowly with a reverb style distant in the mix and the track shifts into a heavy, noise ridden track. Everything is highlighted further through the mature and brilliant production and mixing on the album, and occasionally the band show touches of post-rock that make them sound even better with ‘Death in a Lemon Grove Part I & II’ & ‘Shot Down Over Tokyo’ being prime examples. ‘Slow Burning Country’ turns the albums sound almost completely alternative rock, but occasionally the band mix this in together with post-punk elements, especially the vocals, which maintain the same profound delivery throughout the entire album. This track highlights the fantastic capabilities of the drums as well; the heavy beat punctuating into the mix, coupling fantastically with the heavy rock of the guitars. Towards the tracks end, the vocals transcend into a higher and impressive registry that gives the music a wild element of ‘surround sound’ quality. ‘Love’s White Thread’ holds back again on instrumentation and instead uses the vocals as the forefront of the sound and the song morphs around it. Although it may appeal to some listeners, ‘Love’s White Thread’ seems less fluent than previous tracks. It also doesn’t show as much of the bands brilliant song writing skills of as other tracks. But, anyway…
‘Sainted Galleries’ is also a contender for the albums greatest song, especially in its magnificent instrumental section in its centre, which slowly and surely brings vocals into the mix. The song brings together sounds touched upon earlier in the album (coldwave and alternative rock especially) and ties it together with the rat-a-tat beat of classic 80’s post-punk, the vocals maintaining their value for the entire entrancing song. ‘At Once with Tattered Sails’ is not so much an album about performance (although the performances are all brilliant) rather it is an album about sounds. For the listener, the band has conjoined and crafted all sorts of majestic and dark sounds together; thus the sounds on the album come across as truly great, but it is the band who have melded them together so very well to make them even better. Nothing but praise should be handed onto the production and mixing on ‘At Once with Tattered Sails’, which feels empty, open and echoed all at the same time. Similarly, the vocals are genius; a reminder that post-punk and coldwave music doesn’t have to have distant and low volume yelling to be fantastic. The vocals on the album fit well with the lyrics, displaying a tasteful throwback to the eighties alternative music scene.
While some may feel the album reuses itself too much, I feel that partially that is part of the appeal of the music. For example, pop music vocal deliveries vary from song to song so the average listener thinks each song itself is completely different because of the vocals (that’s pretty much mainstream pop summarised for you). But ‘Battles of Winter’ maintain the same, deep and echoing voice on nearly every track, which I genuinely feel makes the music ever more powerful. The album showcases everything that should be done in the genre, and how a band should go about producing and mixing an album; achieved cleverly through performance and sound.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cam Phillips is a writer and above all, a music lover, who seeks to gain experience through writing and listening. He is also an avid film viewer and art and literature junkie who enjoys creative writing. His most recent published work was featured on the Australian heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.