Thresholds of Imbalance

Post rock is off to a busy start in 2009 with the likes of Nanda Devi, Tombs, Buried Inside, and the new Isis (which is killer BTW) – already before the start of spring. However the album I was most anticipating in the genre this year, the sophomore effort from North Dakota’s Battlefields as I thought the short but excellent 2007 debut, Stained with the Blood of an Empire, was one of the most enthralling examples of the genre I had heard.

I had used the term ‘doomcore’ to describe the debut album and its primal heft and that term seems less relevant as the band, with a longer (58 minutes compared to the debuts 33 minutes), more diverse second album, has much more typical, post rock structures and a lot more introspection. That’s not to say it’s a worse album, it’s in fact a brilliant album that sees Battlefields fully unfurl their sound to its potential and should see them mentioned in the genre’s elite.

Three of the 9 tracks (“Stasis”, “Approaching”, and “Nibiru”) are actually instrumental numbers, in part giving the album its more traditional post rock feel, and there are some other shorter tracks, but the nuts and bolts of the album are the epic, lengthy tracks; opener “Disacknowledge” (12 minutes), “Blueprint” (10 minutes) and “Threshold” (13 minutes) – all just stunning examples of music that mixes delicate elegance by way of builds and ebbs with massive, crumbling explosions and grooves. Throw in a multi faceted vocal attack of screams, mid range roars and some huge death metal bellows, and you get a post rock album that has a little bit more of an edge when it does deliver the heft, even if the more introspective filler seems a bit more piecemeal than actually required.

Arguable standout “Blueprint” has a doomy, rending melody line resurfacing and a haunting midsection amid the seismic heaves while the other highlight, “Threshold” builds tensely and adds layers after later before a climactic main riff to die for. Sure, the shorter “Of Imbalance”, “Quake and Flood” and more angular closer “Majestic” are all top notch, more direct heaving, thunderous examples of the genre, but they don’t quite the epic scope and scale of the previously mentioned monsters.

This could easily be 2009s second best post rock album behind Wavering Radiant, and that’s no small feat. My only minor gripe is what happened to the more unique artwork from the debut?

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
April 2nd, 2009


  1. Commented by: Nick A.

    Good tunes. I just wish they were nicer people. Had a less than amicable experience when they stayed at my house. Singer really comes off as a self-righteous snob. Apologies if this is inappropriate for this forum.

  2. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    Thats unfortunate-im supposed to interview them on April 7th-ill found out for myself I guess

  3. Commented by: Dan

    Nice review Erik. I liked “Stained…” quite a bit back when I was a little more into this style (big Pelican boner back then). I thought they had a little more bite than their contemporaries. I don’t know about this one though. More typical post rock structures? Meh. There’s a reason I lost interest in this style.

  4. Commented by: Nick A.

    Oh I’m sure he’ll be lovely and cordial, erik. I mean he will be promoting their new album.

  5. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    Interview went great- all the guys ESPECIALLY Rusty were very cool, generous with merch and professional. Other than some tech difficulties, show was tight also. Interview should be up Monday am

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