The debut album from Battlestations is quite interesting, to say the least. This Belgian act's self-titled entrance into the music scene often rides the border between dark ambient music and chilling atmospheric rock, resulting in an album that is both haunting and cryptic in its implications. Even though Battlestations is an instrumental album, there are frequent spoken word passages revolving around a dystopian worldview of 21st century life. A dark, dreary, and bleak album, this certainly isn't something to listen to if you're looking for a bit of music to cheer you up. The floaty atmospheres that Battlestations create are sure to appeal to listeners who enjoy the darker side of ambient music and post rock, making this a strong recommendation to fans of those genres as well as experimental rock music in general. Although not flawless, this is a highly original twenty-first century debut that promises many great things from Battlestations in the future.
Battlestations is divided into three lengthy segments, and each of them exceed seven minutes; two of them are even over 18 minutes. Considering the sheer length of the compositions, as well as the soothing soundscapes and bleak atmospheres, one can certainly imagine that the music can take a few listens to overcome the initial monotony. For me, at least, this isn't a "love at first sight" album, and it demands your full attention to be appreciated - using this as background music will not suffice. Even after multiple listens, although Battlestations creates a very convincing atmosphere, there are occasionally dull sections where I find my mind wandering in each of the tracks. Although most of the album is captivating, the hauntingly soothing nature of the music can leave the listener craving something a bit more busy from time to time. This issue may only boil down to personal preference, though, and I can definitely appreciate that the whole album is well-composed and professional. A few transitions may be a bit jagged and there is an occasional section that comes across as a tad redundant, but both of these are fairly minor flaws in the big picture.
One of the more unique features of Battlestations is the production. It has a raw, almost industrial vibe that also sounds very professional and crisp in certain areas. It's an acquired taste, and those craving for a sleek and modern production will be slightly disappointed, but I think this sound is wonderful and suits the music perfectly. Kudos to Battlestations for managing to create a production that sounds unique and original, yet still fits into the music flawlessly!
Battlestations may not be an album for everybody, but it makes for a very strong entrance into the scene for this young and adventurous post rock outfit. Battlestations are definitely an act to keep your eye on in the coming years. As for this humble debut, I'd say that it's a very strong recommendation for those who enjoy dark ambient, post rock, and experimental rock with a dash of originality. It may be a slightly challenging and monotonous journey at times, but it's one worth experiencing regardless. I'd say 3.5 stars are well-deserved in this case.
1. Segment 1: No Survivors (18:57)
2. Segment 2: The Taste Of The Kill (7:56)
3. Segment 3: Accidents Of Ideals (18:36)