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Review: Battlefields, Thresholds of Imbalance

Posted in Music Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, April 8, 2009 by Ryan Buege

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! Continue reading

Concert Review: Battlefields, Irepress, Frontier, Vernal Pool @ the Triple Rock Social Club

Posted in Concert Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on Thursday, March 12, 2009 by Ryan Buege

Battlefields live at the Triple Rock Social Club

It was Wednesday night, and the turnout was surprisingly good for the show at Triple Rock Social Club featuring a billing Battlefields, Irepress, Frontier, and Vernal Pool. For braving the cold, fans in attendance were treated to a perfectionist display of some visionary one-of-a-kind doom, post, and progressive metal from some bands that the music community is sure to be hearing much more of in the future. Though clearly young bands, both Battlefields and Irepress played like veterans of their craft during their brief appearances, with the former opting for a punishing, unpredictable brute force doom, gloom, and hardcore and the latter playing an impassioned, progressive and riff heavy style of post-rock. The enthusiasm was noticeably high (especially for a doom metal show) even throughout the open sets of slow, plodding doom by Vernal Pool and jagged, riff heavy post-metal from Frontier, as well, and I guarantee that every band playing earned themselves a few new fans that night. The Battlefields and Irepress tour is now headed down to SXSW, and I urge anyone in their path to go see it. For now check out the small set of photos from the Wednesday night show at Triple Rock (ps. unfortunately I could only get a few, as my camera battery died soon after Vernal Pool and I didn’t bring a spare – live and learn).

Battlefields live at the Triple Rock Social Club(Battlefields)

Irepress live at the Triple Rock Social Club(Irepress)

Frontier live at the Triple Rock Social Club(Frontier)

Vernal Pool live at the Triple Rock Social Club(Vernal Pool)

I’ve still got quite a few more photos after the jump.. Keep reading! Continue reading

Fargo’s Battlefields set release date for Translation Loss debut

Posted in Concert Dates, Music News with tags , , , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, February 25, 2009 by Ryan Buege

This is just a short update to bring you up-to-speed on one of my favorite mind-expanding metal bands from the area, the young Fargo-ND ethereal post metal/chaotic hardcore innovators in Battlefields. Their debut full-length on Translation Loss Records (Dysrhythmia, Intronaut, Total Fucking Destruction) is now scheduled to be released on March 31, 2009. Listening to some of the goodies from the album that they’ve got on their myspace gives me the impression that (even after several months of waiting with these snippets on repeat) I’m not quite ready for what I’m about to hear. Post-metal truly hasn’t sound this fresh, defiant, and unstoppable to my ears since it first became my drug of choice. It’s too bad the album won’t be available before they play at the Triple Rock Social Club on March 11th with rising psych/prog rockers Irepress, Minneapolis’s Frontier, and our friends in local doomgaze lords Vernal Pool, but that’s no reason to miss this show. With all of these bands supporting unbelievable new material, there’s no doubt in my mind that this will be one of the the most impressive “local” underground metal shows lined up for the remainder of the 2009 winter. Can’t miss!

To round out some great pre-coverage of this show, we’ll have an excellent interview online next week that we conducted with Vernal Pool at their stomping grounds in NE MPLS a few days ago about the show and their forthcoming debut full length album. Also, they’ll will be playing a verrrrry late set on Saturday at the 400 Bar for the Devil’s Work Shop 5 Year Anniversay Party, so metalheads  shouldn’t fail to stay around til bar time to be impressed before the Battlefields/Irepress tour sweeps through the city.