Friday, 22 October 2010

The Last Battle - Heart of the Land, Soul of the Sea

There is always a real danger with folk-leaning bands that their albums fall flat on their face due to a lack of variation. I feared this about The Last Battle for a while as I wasn't sure where they would take their sound and if they could diversify it enough to make an album that would grab me from start to finish. Then they released their single 'Ruins' and my worries and fears were put to rest. The dirty guitar lead number is just one of many tracks on 'Heart of the Land, Soul of the Sea' that really makes the album a winner from start 'til finish. It is evident from the offset that we are in for something different than their demos when the crackling feedback and slow build up of opener 'Heart of the Land' whets my appetite for the rest of the album. The aforementioned 'Ruins' follows and the album is off to a rollicking start. Reverting back to a simple acoustic orientated formula we find 'Lifejackets', which is my favourite track on the album. Whenever I hear Scott Longmuir's vocals I always find them so sincere and honest and 'Lifejackets' extends this notion. In another change of pace there is the excellent spoken word piece 'Photographic Memory' which is equally sad as it is hopeful. Just when I felt this album hadn't kept me on my toes enough there is the Polka feel of 'Cutlass' which makes best use of the token male/female vocal harmonies. Old favourite 'Whisky!!' is as pleasing as ever. I was fairly sad to see 'Ward 119' not feature on the album but by the time 'Soul of the Sea' comes round you realise it would have seemed out of place on this almost perfect concept album.

From start to finish The Last Battle take you on a wee journey without pretense and have achieved making an 'album' in the best sense of the word. It all flows so nicely together without ever seeming tired or uninspired, constantly adapting sound and keeping you interested. They have successfully side-stepped the pitfalls of making folk-tinged music, and in doing so have created a captivating listen.

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