Review: Battle Lines – Primal

After a year of personal struggle, self-exploration and perseverance, Battle Lines return to the music scene with their brand new album, Primal. A glorious concoction of dark pop, ‘90s sentiment and poignant lyrics, it is both an auditory and artistic delight. Comprised of ten beguiling tracks – all diverse in style and sound – the album is an impeccable demonstration of the talent and endeavour that each band member put in to its production. Dealing with issues such as loss, exclusion and abandonment, the album encompasses all themes pertaining to dark pop and alternative rock. It is most definitely a feast for the ears, resembling the likes of Plum Tree, Joy Division and The Smiths.

Beginning with a successful combination of alluring vocals and an attractive guitar melody, the opening titular track ‘Primal’ quickly develops in to an appealing sequence of calming guitar riffs that briefly create a calming effect, until drumming enters the songs. The auditory effect of the guitar collocates with the atavistic and primal effect created by the drums. Successfully, these two opposing musical styles blend together and support the raw emotion that is evident in the lyrics of the song.

Intriguingly, the songs ‘Hunted’, ‘Sea of Fire’ and ‘Skull’ are centred upon a muse: a nameless female who is both envied and loved by the speaker. Lyrics such as ‘My darkened heart is shaded deep in the realms of envy’, which are found in ‘Skull’, inject a poetic influence in to the album, adding an extra level of meaning to the piece. In addition, the involvement of a muse in the album illustrates the artistic creativity of the band members, as well as their musical genius.

On the theme of marrying lyrics with music, the track ‘Outsider’ is particularly profound. Opening with an angelic, choral sound, the song denotes the spiritual essence of the album, before delving in to fusing chorus singing with dark pop music. Whilst some may be sceptical of this combination, it is worth pointing out that it works nicely, and helps the song retain a reflective tone throughout. Notably, the contemplative essence of the track is fortified by lyrics like ‘Always the outsider looking in, pushing the walls in the hope they’ll cave in.’ Lyrics like this are certainly emotive, possessing the ability to tug at the heart strings of any listener.

‘Smother’ and ‘Warfare’ are arguably the best pieces of the album, with each harking back to a time when melancholic rock and pop ruled the music world. The former evidently pays homage to the self-exploratory alternative music scene that existed in the ‘80s and ‘90s, whilst the latter contains a charm reminiscent of The Smiths, composed of melancholic content and upbeat, lyrical form. Alongside the song ‘Warfare’, both tracks are morose, contemplative and are ultimately an astute illustration of the ways in which love and heartbreak affect us all.

Throughout each song of the album, the band successfully creates enthralling images with their music. ‘Control’, for example, is a captivating masterpiece; with an organ-fuelled musical core, interspersed with heavy electro beats, it transports the listener to another world, creating an oneiric effect. Perhaps what makes the track so entrancing is its omission of lyrics – whereas lyrics add an emotive charm to the other tracks of the albums, the absence of words in this piece allows it to retain its spiritual charm.

The album is sophisticated, elegant and charming – with just a tinge of wildness. Whilst most artists and bands attempting to resurrect a musical genre through their music often fail to apply their own influence to their work, Battle Lines display an ability to fuse a revered style of music with their own creative ability, as demonstrated in their most recent album. A five star rating for a five star band, Primal is a testament to the authenticity and musical ability of Battle Lines.

Beth Andralojc

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