Anyone who has seen the Last Battle live in recent months might have been expecting that their second full length album ‘Lay Your Burden Down’ would be a significantly different beast to their debut ‘Heart of the Land, Soul of the Sea’. In fact ‘beast’ could easily have been the operative word such has been the ferocity of some sections of the live show.
But fans of the melodic, folk of the first album can rest easily. Even if LYBD is undoubtedly a step closer to rock, it is recognisably by the same band.
However, the introduction of a beefier sound is made clear from the outset – there was nothing on the debut quite like the bold drums that open the King Creosote plays Motown of ‘None of This’. Further evidence of the band breaking new ground can be found in the juddering bass intro to ‘The Crunching’ and the Afrobeat guitar inflections on ‘You and Me’.
However it’s the epic soundscape of the appropriately named ‘Spreading Wings, Taking Flight’, which comes closest to the live set. Yet whilst it lays down the foundations for the live wig-out of guitars and violin, the recorded incarnation is a more subtle beast and could even be regarded as a counterpart of sorts to eagleowl’s ‘Too Late In The Day’ even down to its location as the penultimate track on the album.
For all that LYBD is undoubtedly a progression from the debut, the lovely folky melodies which drew me to ‘Heart …’ in the first place are still very much in evidence. Both songs on which Caroline takes the lead, the gentle ‘Breathe Bones’ and the sad ‘Cocoon’, are direct links back to the first album as is the melancholic duet ‘Perfecting The Art (Of Saying Nothing)’.
The album also retains an organic feel due to the key instrumental melodies on the album being carried by the violin.
LYBD therefore manages the satisfying trick of relating to what’s gone before whilst still managing to find new avenues to explore. But essentially, it shows the Last Battle playing to their strengths of quality songwriting with strong melodies to deliver a fine record.
‘Lay Your Burden Down’ is released through Beard of Truth on Monday 5th May.
The band launch the LP with shows at the Roxy 171 in Glasgow on Thursday 1st May, with solo support sets from Neil Pennycook (Meursault) and Adam Ross (Randolph’s Leap), whilst the Edinburgh show is at the Liquid Room on Friday 2nd with support from J. Wright Presents and Lidh.
Here’s a recent interview that The Last Battle mainman Scott Longmuir did with MPT back in March in which he talked about crowd-funding and changing the band’s sound for LYBD.