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It would have been so easy for Battalions to make their debut album, Nothing to Lose, forgettable. Fuzzy sludge anchored in 4/4 rock beats has got to be one of the most saturated fields in heavy music. A few too many lumberjack yodels and a few too few drum fills and you've got the Miller High Life of distorted guitar composition.

Battalions swerve around those obstacles. Drummer Matt Walker has a tasteful sense of balance. The hi-hat rattles when it ought to, but he channels his inner Phil Rudd when the riff calls for it as well. Screamer Phil Wilkinson, uses his limited range as an advantage - his coyote snarl becomes one more percussive element, but oscillates from near intelligibility to rabid frothing in a compelling way. Best, guitarists Peter Cross and Mark Wood know how to ride Eyehategod-ish blues runs ("Whisky and Wine") or pure pedal tone riffage that evokes Unearthly Trance going for 80's heavy rock restraint ("You Have Nothing to Lose But Your Sons and Your Souls"). Too much feedback or too little song craft would have wrecked this record, but Battalions always provide something for the listener to hold on to, and for that they stand out among their peers.

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Nothing to Lose is out 2/27 via Black Bow. Follow Battalions on Facebook.

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