Label: Black Bow Records
Originally self-released, Nothing To Lose is being given a new lease of life thanks to a coming reissue from Black Bow Records. It’s a bloody good thing, too. This record from Battalions does not mess around. Angry, loud, and incredibly heavy, this is a sludge/stoner battering that takes the best elements of both styles and puts them together to great effect. Packed full of riffs and addictive songs, this bodes very well for their forthcoming new album.
The album wastes little time. A short introduction gets opener ‘A Coward’s Manifesto’ going, and there’s little let-up from there. Heavy riffs and pissed off, raw vocals are the order of the day, backed up by a solid rhythm section that keeps the songs grounded and on-course. There’s more than a hint of Iron Monkey to Battalions’ sound, with the riffs having that touch of the ugly about them even as they practically demand head-banging – the opening riff of ‘Hoods Up Knives Out’ isn’t far removed from those that can be found on Our Problem. It never gets quite as ugly as Iron Monkey did though, and there’s plenty of stoner-style groove to be found.
It’s that sense of groove that makes Nothing To Lose really work. It’s easy to write angry, heavy riffs. What isn’t so easy is making them interesting, and keeping them interesting on repeat listens. It’s here that the subtle strength of Battalions shows, with plenty of small twists and turns, especially from the bass, adding extra texture and flavour to Battalions’ already meaty sound. This comes further to the fore as the album progresses, with tracks like ‘Blood Bed’ having obvious classic rock and metal influences to their melodies and movement. When combined with sludge-style heaviness, it makes for a crushing, enjoyable listen.
That sense of enjoyment characterises the second half of Nothing To Lose. Whilst the opening song may have vocalist Philkinson screaming “fuck the government/they just lie” in truly angry style, the album as a whole shows that Battalions are a band who know and understand how fun and enjoyable heaviness can be, especially when contrasted with catchy melodies and hooks. It may be heavy, angry, and punishing, but Nothing To Lose is also pretty enjoyable. Hell, ‘Deadbeat Dad Beat Dead’ even makes me think of Alabama Thunderpussy’s metallised Lynyrd Skynyrd-isms (for the avoidance of doubt, this is A Very Good Thing).
It’s that contrast which has kept me coming back to the record. It may not be that long (can we really call it an album at 27 minutes? Does it actually matter?), and it’s not really that revolutionary, but there’s a lot of enjoyment to be found in Nothing To Lose, and sometimes that’s exactly what you want. If you’re looking for riffs, aggression, and heaviness whilst also having some fun, then you could do far worse than Nothing To Lose.
Nothing To Lose is set for re-released on 27 February 2017 via Black Bow Records. Follow Black Bow Records on Facebook for updates.