The Battles of Winter – At Once With Tattered Sails


Writing for Creative Control has introduced me to a number of artists I probably wouldn’t have heard of otherwise. Each week, a new artist or group enters my field of vision, but there are times when someone I’ve written about before returns to focus. It’s like I’m making sequels, but unlike Hollywood’s unneeded ones, this sequel is absolutely necessary.

A few months back, I wrote about The Battles of Winter, a quartet from London who meld punk, alternative rock, and indie to form powerful songs such as their single, “Love’s White Thread.” I discussed the single, believing it to involve “cowboy editors.” I later discovered it showed the narrator trying to forget his painful past, yet never omitting the memories completely. It was definitely an interesting song, but some people might remember I mentioned this single would be a part of their upcoming album, “At Once With Tattered Sails.” Well, the album is coming out September 23rd, and I’ve received a sneak preview. The album includes ten songs, one being “Love’s White Thread,” so let’s discuss some of the new songs I’ve enjoyed.


“Sainted Galleries” was probably my favorite on the album, if only for the instrumentals. It starts off with a strong and constant drumbeat, one that instantly fills the listener with energy. Guitar chords are blended in, increasing the listener’s vigor even more. When the narrator finally begins singing, anyone will feel pumped. The song focuses on legacies, how we build them up into sacred ideas. We often put our focus on the happy times, trying to ignore the many cold, sad moments of our pasts. The song is quite intriguing, with lyrics like, “What legacy we led/Beyond the frozen waves.” Personally, I imagined someone riding a motorcycle, driving down a long road surrounded by stills reflecting memories. It’s probably a different image than the band intended, but I believe it works well with this song’s tone and ideas.

Another two tracks I wanted to talk about are “Death in a Lemon Grove (Part I)” and “Death in a Lemon Grove (Part II).” It’s already unusual to have a two-part narrative in the same album, but what makes these tracks even more unexpected is how different they feel and sound. The first part is slow, filled with guitar-strums that make the track sound like a mix between a country song and ominous rock. It takes thirty seconds before any singing occurs, and when the narrator does sing, he gives images of a man waking up in a lemon grove, tasting blood. As we move into the next part, however, the song picks up, becoming faster and more energized. We get images, both past and present, of a garden that was once beautiful and brilliant, but now has the appearance of death. Weeds have grown everywhere, concrete is starting to form around it, and the place is full of dust. It is not clear what caused such a drastic change, but I do know that this is a fantastic pair of songs. The first part is the build-up that leads into the dark, yet fast-moving second part. The listener starts on the edge, but is then flung straight into a rush of imagery. It’s a powerful and unique way to write songs, and I love it.


The last song I thought I would mention is “Shot Down Over Tokyo.” I’ll admit my interest in the title alone is biased, having recently spent over a month in Japan. Like “Death in A Lemon Grove,” the lyrics contain a lot of imagery. Immediately from the start, listeners hear poetic lines like, “With trembling fists, we saw the fiery trails/Tear through a cold and hostile sky.” This song is filled many terrifyingly beautiful lyrics like this, depicting a narrative I can only imagine has to do with a WWII event. I would have to do more research, but the images of fire and storms have convinced me it has to do with this historical period. As I listened to this song, I felt like I was there, watching something being shot down over Japan’s capital, amidst the black and howling storms. This whole album contained wonderful imagery like this, but I feel “Shot Down Over Tokyo” performs this job best, dragging any listeners into the story.

After listening to this long-awaited album, I have to say the wait was worth it. I enjoyed “Love’s White Thread” months ago, but the band’s style feels stronger and more compelling now that I have a better understanding of it. The imagery is wonderful and I encourage anyone who listened to “Love’s White Thread” to check this album out on its September 23rd release.

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