Album: Mirrored

Label: Warp

Release Date: May 22

**** (out of 5)


This new york instrumental, four-piece outfit followup a series of successful EPs with a blinding full-length debut album that is as much soulful as it is a lesson in the precision of musical geometry.


In fact, calling the Battles instrumental is technically incorrect. There are vocal noises here, scientifically exploited and interwoven into the layer upon layer of blistering math rock and techno laptop wizardry.

Tying these forces together is John Stanier’s inhuman drum work. He is the engine of this complex machine, masterfully powering it through uncharted territory.

Reminiscent of Daft Punk and Yes, Mirrored is both primal and progressive. This must be what Stephen Hawking rocks out to while contemplating the topography of our multidimensional universe.

Ozzy Osbourne

Album: Black Rain

Label: Song BMG/Epic

Release Date: May 22

** 1/2

Perhaps more than ever before, Ozzy’s latest record relies on studio slickness rather than the aging rocker’s damaged-goods charm.

Unfortunately, the hyper-production employed here gives off a palpable synthetic feel. There’s a plethora of filter effects applied to Ozzy’s ravaged voice, set against the standard gloomy keyboards and moany harmonizing. This all creates a brooding sludge-metal universe that sounds heavy but may distance those unfamiliar with the Land of Oz.

Once again, virtuoso axeman Zakk Wylde does well to update the customary metal riffage, adding energy to fist-pumpers like I Don’t Wanna Stop and 11 Silver. Even when tunes toy with ingenuity — like the Iraq-themed War Pigs update of the title track — Black Rain won’t offer much for Sabbath-metal fans looking for a new heavy.