Posted by: worthyplug | October 20, 2010

Plug #1: Battle Circus

Because I’m pretentious enough to feel I should have this, I will. Basically, I will plug any albums/bands that I feel are left far too “undiscovered” by the general public. I’m not talking about your Porcupine Tree’s, or your Boards of Canada’s, I’m referring to truly “underground” (fuck, I hate that word) bands, that have small followings. They will most likely work multiple jobs, and will struggle to survive as musicians, but manage make fantastic music.

Anyhoo, without further ado, I will plug my first band; Battle Circus.
Battle Circus are a fantastic, young prog-influenced band, hailing from Auckland, New Zealand. They have toured New Zealand extensively, and have just finished playing at FILTER Magazine’s Culture Collide Festival (at a huge number of venues in LA) along with such acts as White Lies, and their Australian based friends City Riots. They are probably best known in the US for having parts of The Half-Light Symphony used in HBO series “True Blood”. The group comprises of; Marcel Belve (vocals, guitar), Yvonne Wu (piano, keyboards), Ryan Marshall (Bass), Daniel Boosher (drums) and they are all awesome at what they do.

Battle Circus trying their hardest to do a generic pose

Battle Circus trying their hardest to do a generic pose

Their singer, Marcel Bellve, has striking similarities in vocal style to Thom Yorke (and, subsequently, Matthew Bellamy of Muse) and oddly enough, even Brandon Flowers at one point. I described his voice to a Muse fan as “It’s like he heard the Matthew Bellamy/Thom Yorke comparisons, and said ‘Oh yeah, I bet I can do it better!’ and then did”. Do NOT let that put you off, because, of course, that’s an exaggeration; and surprisingly, Marcel’s vocals are stunningly good (surprising, as I often find these “underground” bands are lacking vocals/vocal production department).

Their début EP, The Half-Light Symphony, is a beautifully crafted piece of work. Whilst the concept itself isn’t that original (apocalyptic in its theme), the delivery is fantastic. Their combination of beautiful Piano and Violin with heavy guitar riffs comes together to create a bombastic, face-melting 42 minute extravaganza, which leaves a powerful impression upon you.  Oh, and did I mention the occasional ecstasy-filled pure electronic moments?

The Half-Light Symphony album artwor

The Half-Light Symphony album artwork

I love things about all four songs, and it’s hard to find criticism. If I’m pushed I can think of two things;

  1. The beginning of Mossman’s Epoch is too loud (I am getting old, aren’t I?), which I can forgive, as the middle section of this song is one of my favourite instrumentals from any band (I almost wish Marcel hadn’t started to sing).
  2. The production is a little poor. I don’t notice it when I’m listening to it, because it sounds so bloody fantastic, but when I play something like Porcupine Tree right after, the production on that seems a lot “cleaner” and “crisper”. But, it is hard, and somewhat unfair, to criticize this when 1) The music is so good, and 2) they are hardly a well established band, who have access to world class producers and technology.

The band do not do anything half-heartedly, either. They have invested the time and money into creating full-length and truly cinematic music videos, and they have also been known to put on a extravagant live shows.

A picture of their "Halloween gig" from 2009

"A shot of their Halloween gig" from 2009

The bottom line

The Half-Light Symphony is a stunning piece of work that you should all at least take a listen to (stream it on their website). At pretty much the length of a full album, I can see no reason why you wouldn’t want to download it for $5 in lossless form. I have only mentioned their EP (they also have a few singles from before it was released back in 2007), because you can get all their tracks as part of the digital bundle, available on itunes and bandcamp. I would recommend getting it from bandcamp because it is cheaper, more profit goes to the band and you can chose which type of file you prefer. Alternatively, you could purchase the lavish digipak from their website.

You bitches need to get on this shit.

(PS, they just finished the mastering on their full length!)

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