Review: Battlefields, Thresholds of Imbalance

Battlefields is band from Fargo, ND, and I don’t know if it was just coincidence for them to release an album with the word “flood” in the title of one of the songs on the same week that their city was bracing against this very same natural disaster, but something tells me that this album would have made the perfect soundtrack to ride out the storm. For someone fighting against the slow push of a rising flood, the visuals inspired by an experimental doomcore sound like this are only too familiar; waves of noise, unforgiving brutality, building rhythms, reflective anticipation, and the sobering aftermath – it’s all there (and I don’t mean to sound unsympathetic). On their Translation Loss debut, Thresholds of Imbalance, these nearly-local purveyors of experimental doom, sludge, and gloom, take the listener on a cinematic journey that places heavy emphasis on ambiance and emotion as it does on crushing riffage.

“Disacknowledge” is a familiar start for anyone who has witnessed a Battlefields live show before. Seamlessly, the song moves through several movements of ever-building sludge thunder and comes to an unexpected eastern cadence at the midway point before segueing  back into an epic, torturous jam to close off the band’s introduction. I really can’t accurately express how much I enjoy the dual vocal approach of this band; while Rusty’s higher-pitched vocals possess an emotional intensity I haven’t heard much outside of the hardcore and screamo scenes, the deep, guttural backing vox add unspeakable power. Likewise, the aural extremes the band band has stitched together into a free-flowing soundtrack have me impressed quite a bit as well; from shimmering electronics to mammoth, gnashing, progressive doom. Admittedly, doom that is this outwardly experimental is unfortunately hard to come by this is why Battlefields is currently supporting an album of doom that defiantly stands out amongst a see a lesser Neurosis, Isis, and classic doom rehashes.

As a band who clearly takes great pleasure in sustaining atmosphere over immediate gratification, Battlefields seems to often wander off on to some trulyBattlefields obtuse electronic and atmospheric jams before allowing the epic doom to take hold. However, like a steamroller, when Battlefields start the headbanging, they are thankfully a band that’s hard to stop. In addition to mind-bending headbangers like “Disacknowledge”, songs such as “Blueprint”, “The Thresholds”, “Of Balance”, “Quake and Flood”, and “Majestic” are all essentially some beastly, rhymthic doom; slow to build but ultimately satisfying by way of depth and expansiveness and the cerebral thrashing they sustain. At times, the band is happy to pick the tempo up considerably, unexpectedly injecting bits of death-trash into their doom in “The Treshholds” and some old-school prog into “Majestic”.

It is a release that will surely satisfy many longtime fans who are have waiting to digest all the nuances of a superb release like this, and it should draw the attention of  underground doom metal fans who are still looking for the perfect combination of doom, hardcore, and electronic experimentation that Isis never found and seemed to stray from. My one possible complaint is that I think the producer could have turned the “heavy” levels up a notch, but this is coming from a person who is used to hearing their tone straight from the amp when they come through the city. Really, this is one of the premiere metal bands from this region; if you are a metal fan and live within 20 miles of Fargo or Minneapolis, consider yourself ashamed to not know this band after Thresholds. And truthfully, any doom metal fan in the nation should definitely check out this album this year if you consider yourself a fan of the genre. With Thresholds of Imbalance, Battlefields  hit all their marks, from the sick riffage and devastating vocal combination to the brilliantly colored soundscapes.

DIG DEEPER: Buy Thresholds of ImbalanceOfficial SiteTranslation Loss

Keep reading for all the band’s tour dates announced so far!

Battlefields and Irepress 2009

April 8th – Iowa City, IA @ Info Coming Soon
April 9th – Vermillion, SD @ Washington Art Center
April 10th – Fargo, ND @ The Aquarium w/Sleeping in Gethsemane
April 11th – Bismarck, ND @ Eagles w/ Sleeping in Gethsemane

June 6th – Kansas City, MO @ Beaumont Club KC Metal & HC Fest w/ Testament, Unearth, and more
June 7th – Kansas City, MO @ Beaumont Club KC Metal & HC Fest w/ Coalesce, For Today, and more

Battlefields and Høst 2009

June 8th – Chicago, IL
June 9th – Saint Louis, MO
June 10th – Nashville, TN @ TBA w/ Across Tundras
June 11th – Little Rock, AR @ Downtown Music
June 12th – Wichita, KS @ ICT FEST
June 13th – Wichita, KS @ ICT FEST
June 14th – Des Moines, IA @ Vaudville Mews
June 15th – Minneapols, MN


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