SubRosa – “For This We Fought the Battle of Ages” (2016)

Label: Profound Lore Records

Review by Warren Mayocchi

Published in 1924, the English translation of Yevgeny Zamyatin‘s novel, “We”, became an inspirational work. It is set in a society where people are known by alpha-numeric codes, live in glass houses for better observation by the authorities, and they are ruled by the state on the basis of cold logic. George Orwell‘s “1984” and several other literary works are directly inspired by “We”. And now SubRosa have used the story to help their new album, “For This We Fought the Battle of Ages”. SubRosa are a progressive rock band in the style of the early seventies. At that time the LP (long playing record) was relatively new. It allowed artists to create album oriented rock with songs lasting considerably longer than those which may have once fit on a single. Here there are four songs longer than 10 minutes, and two of those go beyond 15 minutes. With the long format the music dwells on various themes and transitions through moods in the course of a song. It cannot help be dramatic, but in keeping with the dystopian source, the music and lyrics are dark and foreboding. One of my favourite lines is, “My skin doesn’t fit anymore”, from opening track “Despair Is a Siren”. Musically there is a diverse expression of the simple palette present on the album. The rock fundamentals – guitar and drums – are regularly augmented with violins and vocally there is also a wide choice with the regularly defiant and at times crooning female vocals taking on most of the work, with the rare counterpoint of a harsh male voice. It is a brooding thoughtful mix enhanced by the bleak themes of the original novel. There is a lot going on at times which can be quite overpowering – it is intended though, the claustrophobic crush of living in this awful future world is represented well. Repeated listens of the album are rewarding, as is a broad understanding of the underlying story. To gain this you could read the original text, an online summary, or watch one for the movies based on the novel. It does take a little effort to fully experience “For This We Fought the Battle of Ages”, but like many of the concept albums of the seventies, it is certainly worth the investment.

Rating – 82/100

 

Tracklist

  1. Despair Is a Siren
  2. Wound of the Warden
  3. Black Majesty
  4. Il Cappio
  5. Killing Rapture
  6. Troubled Cells

 

Line Up

  • Rebecca Vernon – Guitars, Vocals
  • Sarah Pendleton – Vocals, Violin, Lyre
  • Kim Pack – Violin, Vocals (backing)
  • Andy Patterson – Drums
  • Levi Hanna – Bass

 

Links

facebook.com/SubrosaSLC

twitter.com/SubrosaSLC

subrosa.cc/