I first encountered Battle in the back room of a pub a couple of years ago. I went along on the off chance, I’d read about them and the fact that they were the next great hope for British guitar music. I was impressed. Their short, sharp set combined riffs, anguish and tunes into a perfectly executed package. Now, after a string of excellent singles and last years superb Back To Earth EP, comes their first long player, Break The Banks. The problem now seems to be that they’ve run out of ideas.
This album has gone from one of my most hotly anticipated releases, to one of the greatest disappointments of the year. All that made their early material pacey, urgent and necessary has vanished in a sheen of studio and production trickery. The crunching riffs of Isabelle, the punk leanings of Wicked Owl and the lyrical prowess of Tendency have all given way to songs of pedestrian pace, cliched couplets and boring sub-Coldplay melodies. Kicking off with the recent single The Longest Time it instantly reminds you of all that was great about this band. The swirl of hacking guitars, the Editors-esque tremolo guitar, angst driven lyrics and aggressive vocal delivery of Jason Bavanadan all combine to make glad to have pressed ’play’. Nothing else touches this spark of creativity and originality. The completely atrocious Demons with it’s line of "Shoot me in the face and make these demons disappear" seems pointless and nonsensical. The predictable backing just stresses the weakness of the lyrics. North Sea tries to conjure up the image of the great Eastern Coastal stretches but comes across more like a rainy day in Skegness rather than a joyful celebration of escape. The rest of the songs just add up to this feeling of being cheated. What happened to the band of twelve months ago? All the energy and ambition seems to have disappeared. Their youthful vigour replaced by an AOR pleasing penchant for the dull and predictable.
As a writer you often get caught up in celebrating the "next great thing". I’ve done this with Battle. I’ve championed each of their releases. Up to now. You can’t help but get the feeling that they’ve missed the boat. The continued delay of releasing this debut has put too much pressure on them. They would have been better off adding some extra tracks to last years Back To Earth which, if you want to hear a band at the peak of their powers, is the release to get. Avoid this like you would a British seaside holiday in February.