‘Battlefields Forever’ was actually released towards the end of 2013, but with the demise of previous label Hydra Head, the album found itself in a kind of limbo. Thankfully Solar Flare Records are on hand to guarantee it a proper European distribution.
If you are already familiar with Warren and Willis’ work, then it’s pretty much (big) business as usual, if not…the fact that Jared and Coady are also members of The Melvins, should give you some idea of what to expect from ‘Battlefields Forever’. A great big fuzzed-up beast with just the right amount of accessibility.
Warren’s over-cranked bass provides the foundations, with his vocals proving suitably powerful and earthy, while Coady Willis literally beats the living crap out of his drum kit. If you’ve ever been a fan of The Murder City Devils, you begin to realise that Willis just maybe the most intense and kick-ass rock drummer out there.
This time round, we also have some stellar guitar playing from Scott Martin. His lines perfectly accentuating the relentless low-end assault.
This is pretty catchy stuff. Even after just a couple of listens, you’ll find a good few of these tracks swimming around in your head. The tribal bravado of opener ‘Chump Chance’ may take you by surprise at first, but it’s a pretty memorable lead-off.
‘No Vowels’ shares a musical similarity with Coady’s previous band Dead Low Tide, with a high-pitched swirl of guitar adding to the tension. ‘Battlefields’ and ‘Trees’ are fuzzy earworms of the highest order, with the crushing heaviness not standing in the way of a great hook. After the brief bass solo of ‘Aurum’, the album gets even more intense. ‘Doomsday, Today!’ still maintains some great vocal hooks, and the QOTSA vibe of ‘Heavy Shoes’ rolls straight into the short, sharp shock of ‘Our Mutant’.
Then the most epic track is saved till last.
‘Lonely Lyle’ is 9 minutes of brooding potency, with fiery guitar shards thrown into the fuzz heavy meltdown, before the big doomy finish and lingering feedback draws the album to a close.
Whether or not this can be classed as sludge or stoner is open to interpretation, but if you like your rock music to be big and bold, ‘Battlefields Forever’ is definitely recommended.
(7.5/10 Stuart Carroll)