The third full-length outing from Admiral Browning is certainly one of the more interesting instrumental metal efforts I've heard this year. Rather than playing along with the hordes of shred-inspired instrumental acts, this Maryland-based trio takes the best of stoner metal, doom metal, and sludge metal and adds a touch of post rock that sets them apart from most bands on the scene. Battle Stations is an album with a raw, unpolished atmosphere and enough quality riffs to satisfy any fan of solid and meaty guitar playing. I'd still like to see a bit more variation and diversity in Admiral Browning's sound, but their overall sense of originality easily makes this one of the better instrumental metal albums this year has to offer.
Although there are quite a few times where you could point to the music on Battle Stations and claim that it's simply "stoner metal without a vocalist", the intricate riffs and impressive guitar solos immediately prove that Admiral Browning are not just concerned with writing repetitive doom-laden riffs. The post rock-influenced "One Lucky Canary" and the almost Middle Eastern-tinged "Interlude" also differentiate these guys substantially from other instrumental stoner acts. Admiral Browning are also very capable musicians who know a thing or two about writing quality instrumental tracks. Although I will admit that a few sections on Battle Stations do feel too repetitive, most of the riffs here are highly memorable and the fantastic solos from Matt LeGrow keep things interesting throughout the album's duration. I would've liked a few more post rock sections - something that Admiral Browning does exceptionally well - as well as a more polished production, but neither are major issues when looking at the big picture. By and large, Battle Stations is a high-quality and highly recommendable effort.
Admiral Browning have really impressed with this album, and I can safely say that I'll be keeping a close eye on them in the coming years. Even though Battle Stations may not be flawless, it shows a great willingness to experiment - and that immediately gives any act my respect. With slightly more coherent song structures and a more professional production, this band's next outing may really be something special. As far as Battle Stations is concerned, I'd say a recommendable 3.5 stars are well-deserved. Those who enjoy instrumental metal free of clichés should find plenty to love here.
1. Riff Crisis (7:08)
2. The Binary Languages of Moisture Vaporators (10:53)
3. One Lucky Canary (4:07)
4. Interlude (2:46)
5. The Dreams of Hammurabi (12:59)
Total Time 37:53