Battles: Mirrored

Battles play rock wound as tight as a suspension cable. They're given to fits of heavy breathing and prog-minded interjections, but the songs on Mirrored traffic more in tightness that proves alluring and unforgiving. It owes to its roots—the group features past members of heavy/heady bands Helmet and Don Caballero—but Battles' singularity grows just as much out of thin air. Songs like "Atlas" pound hard and wonder aloud about the accruing power of rhythm, with every element of the sound set on a beat. (That includes processed vocals that sound like the tic-strewn inner thoughts of a devil playing hopscotch.) Other tracks traipse methodically over synths and drum-machines cast as accents among all the rock muscle-flexing. It works best when the songs sound in thrall to themselves, reacting in different ways while retracing steps, but it also fishtails into missteps ("Rainbow") that sound oddly like Mannheim Steamroller.

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