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Battlestations - In A Cold Embrace CD (album) cover

IN A COLD EMBRACE

Battlestations

 

Post Rock/Math rock

3.98 | 122 ratings

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VanVanVan
Prog Reviewer
5 stars It may be presumptuous or even melodramatic of me to say this as June is just beginning, but here it is: this is the best album I've heard yet this year. In fact, I'll go as far as saying that unless some absolute humdingers are released in the near future I strongly suspect I'll be saying something similar come December. Fully instrumental, "In A Cold Embrace" is able to manage that which so few albums can: it comes off as a perfectly unified whole, a single unbroken journey that maintains an exceptional level of quality from the first note to the last. "In A Cold Embrace" is, in my mind at least, undoubtedly a masterpiece, radiating beauty and transporting the listener to another world for its entire length.

"Prologue: Nature Morte/You're Not Welcome Here" begins with a rather sedate guitar part over some unusual backing music that sounds like a combination between psychedelic post-rock and trance electronica. The effect is simply breathtaking; despite having a very subtle development the track is nuanced and far deeper than merely the sum of its parts. In fact, despite a good percentage of the sound consisting of repeated motifs that are slowly developed and blended together, the track is utterly compelling throughout its hefty 13 minute runtime. All of the different parts blend together perfectly to create music which defies and transcends strict classification into one genre, and is all the better for its unclassifiability (if that's even a word).

"Comrade/The Way We Grieve" follows seamlessly from the first track, and in much the same vein. An acoustic guitar part that's almost reminiscent of Agalloch (though in a wholly different context here) quickly takes the lead, and the track begins to take on a slightly heavier, more rhythmic edge which nonetheless maintains the trancelike dreaminess that so permeated the first track. In fact, despite the bleakness of the instrumentation and the vibe given off by the track's title and the album's artwork, I can actually detect a kind of hopefulness in the music here, even if it is a rather melancholy hopefulness. Regardless of what emotions you can find in it, however, there's no doubt that this second track is equally as beautiful as the first. With passages that are by turns familiar and incredibly strange, it's an amazing journey that's never less than stellar.

"Interlude: Time Stands Still" is the shortest track on the album by a good margin, but it nonetheless carries a great deal of drama, with no shortage of cinematic dynamic changes and a pseudo-melodic guitar part that serves perfectly in the track's role as "Interlude."

"Breaking Bad News/The Faces We Remember" starts off on a rather minimalistic note. A spare guitar part taking center stage against a beautiful ambient backdrop that utilizes a huge variety of musical textures and drones to create a shimmering, rumbling atmosphere capable of conjuring up incredibly powerful emotions despite its relative sparseness. Spectacularly used minimalistic percussion and bass give the track a very unique feel, and as with the other tracks on the album the pacing is brilliant; when the mood intensifies with about a minute and a half left in the track the band is able to create one of the finest musical moments I've heard in recent memory. If the previous three tracks somehow weren't convincing enough, "Breaking Bad News/The Faces We Remember" should provide ample proof that as composers and performers, the members of this band are masters of their craft.

"The Semblance of Fate/Epilogue: Citizen Creep" begins with more of the shimmering atmospheres and unique guitar work that have appeared all over the album. It's truly a testament to the band's skill that despite most of the tracks utilizing similar instrumentation there isn't a single moment on the album that feels same-y or recycled; in fact, at risk of overusing the word there isn't a single moment on this album that is less than breathtakingly beautiful. A haunting piano part is an integral part of the beginning of this track, working wonderfully in and around the track's atmospheres to again conjure up strong emotional feelings. Guitar takes over for the track's middle third, utilizing the same kind of brilliantly slow-paced build as many of the other tracks and bursting forth in a cathartic wash of emotion right before the 6 minute mark. Stellar orchestral accompaniments and atmospheric rumblings help bring the track to a close, while piano and guitar continue to play beautifully understated roles. As a slightly distorted piano part brings the track to a close, there's once again a faint but extremely audible ray of hope among the melancholy strains of the rest of the track, and it's a spectacular end for one extremely spectacular album.

I really can't praise this album enough. It isn't often that I have the opportunity to listen to music without doing anything else at the same time, but this is the kind of album that simply demands you close your eyes and give your entire attention. If you want my recommendation, get this album, throw it on a nice stereo system and just let the music carry you away, because it isn't often that music this good comes along.

5/5

VanVanVan | 5/5 |

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