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Battlestations - In A Cold Embrace CD (album) cover




Post Rock/Math rock

4.04 | 131 ratings

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Andy Webb
Special Collaborator
Retired Admin
5 stars I've never been a huge fan of the post-rock movement, as the atmospheric rock sentiments and generally watery sound never really appealed to me. However, some time last year in 2011 I went out on a limb and reviewed a new Belgian post-rock outfit named Battlestations. I did not have high hopes as I first spun the album, but over time I quickly realized what a genius piece of art the mysterious group, whose identities (or identity) has yet to be revealed, had created. The haunting atmospheres, chilling ambience, and starkly depressing sound was both revolting and attractive at the same time, making me an almost instant fan of the music. It didn't take long for the band to produce a new album, and by early/mid-2012, the band's next album, In a Cold Embrace, was already released.

One thing I feared before listening to the album is that I would find the same thing as the last album: cold (which was hinted at by the title) unforgiving atmospheres, some depressing and socially frightening audio clips, and a droning, haunting music base. Of course as I had enjoyed those same elements in the last album, it wouldn't have been such a bad thing, but I wanted the band's impressive musical vision to expand into something more.

I didn't have to wait long.

While the album is, in essence, made of the same stuff of the last album, the band has added so much more to their sophomore effort. The band does an excellent job of skirting around a concrete genre tag again, as the music is not wholly post rock nor wholly ambient nor wholly drone nor wholly anything but what it is, which is of course one of the genius aspects of the music. I immediately noticed that much deeper and richer texture that had been put into the album with numerous delicately placed instrumental tracks and ambient soundscape additions. While that chilling, imposing atmosphere remains, it is not held back by a single spoken word concept like the former album, but rather free to roam the avenues of sound, curving and exploring through various emotions and feelings, turning this album into a superb musical experience.

The format still features a number of lengthy, sophisticated and multi-movement pieces that give the album its meat. The two sections of the album, however, split by the intermission, have two very different modes. The first is rooted in their first album's style, a cold, haunting mix of ambience and post rock that is chilling yet draws the listener in for more. The second half, however, is far warmer, composed of not necessarily a happier outlook but rather almost comforting, as the enveloping sounds surround the listener and provide a peaceful end to the band's excellent sophomore effort.

In the end, this album is a journey. While the story-like song titles and beautifully made packaging lead you on a general "path," for the most part one can truly explore many feelings in this very cinematic music. Musically, it is beautifully crafted, with numerous layers and a wonderfully textured sound all contributing to an overall musical experience. While it doesn't really fit into post-rock like Sigur Ros or Godspeed You! Black Emperor might, it without a doubt adds a new dimension to the genre that many a band in the future should take influence from. No doubt In a Cold Embrace will go down as one of the better post rock releases of the year. 5 stars.

Andy Webb | 5/5 |


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