Thresholds Of Imbalance
posted on 5/2009 By:
While we spend the coming weeks (or months) taking in Wavering Radiant and deciding where it ranks in the Isis discography, the newer batch of slow-and-heavy post-metallers are releasing some exciting stuff of their own. Earlier this year I was really impressed by Nanda Devi’s The Fifth Season album, and now Battlefields have dropped a stunner with their latest, Thresholds of Imbalance. Unlike the initial wave of bands in this style who, after four or five albums have now branched out and diversified their sound well beyond that which they started with, the likes of ND and Battlefields are taking things back to basics somewhat. Yes, Thresholds... is a sprawling, epic affair that delivers plenty of beautiful, lilting atmospheric moments. But a lot of Battlefields’ sound remains rooted in bleak, sludgy doom metal and the combined effect of the two sonic extremes is genuinely thrilling, not to mention refreshing.
Production-wise Thresholds of Imbalance is reminiscent of Pelican's The Fire In Our Throats… album. The sound is stripped-back and organic; the drums pound away forcefully in a small room, the vocals are similarly up-front and it's down to the guitars - with the addition of simple reverb - to provide most of the atmospheric weight. What stands out most with Battlefields is the menacing dual-vocal attack. The combination of near-death metal growls and acidic, high-pitched yelling is terrific (the latter recalling the sadly defunct Canadian metalcore outfit Maharahj - remember them?). The contrast between the antagonistic growling and melodic, yet weighty passages on such tracks as album highlight “Blueprint” superbly illustrates the emotional power Battlefields are capable of harnessing in their music.
The individual songs on Thresholds... largely flow into each other, giving the album an increased sense of totality and a smooth logic that holds your attention for its one-hour duration. In fact everything is so well-balanced and executed that it’s difficult trying to come up with any legitimate criticisms. Of course, Battlefields aren’t making music for everyone - this is a massive piece of work that requires some effort to fully absorb and appreciate. The new Isis aside, if Thresholds of Imbalance isn’t one of the year’s finest post-millennial doom offerings then I must have missed something very big indeed.
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