Battle of Mice

Day of Nights

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It isn't very often that a team-up involving members of two distinct bands works out in the way that Battle of Mice's A Day of Nights does. That is to say that the gazier aspects of guitarist Josh Graham's Red Sparowes and the sheer intensity that Julie Christmas brings to her band, Made Out of Babies, come together without having to make sacrifices on either end. The music on A Day of Nights is sometimes dreamy, at other times coarse, and still other times intrusive and uncomfortable. What really sticks in the listener's ear with A Day of Nights -- at least in the general sense -- is that this album feels like it was constructed in a cave. It's tight, cramped, and screaming within a breath's distance of one's face. And yet, it's a huge-sounding record, powerful, layered, and dense. Christmas is the star here (as she is in most appearances on disc), her voice moving from wailing banshee to precious-sweetheart-stalker on the verge of a breakdown and back at the drop of a hat. For Graham, whose band can be as heavy but lacks (perhaps due to their lack of a vocalist) the intensity that Christmas provides to her band, this is his (and the rest of the players, whose ranks include Tony Maimone) moment to break from the collective-like sound of Red Sparowes and explore a tougher, more pummeling style of song structure. Tracks like "Bones in the Water" and "Wrapped in Plain" are undeniably heavy and intense, almost churning between tension and release, but the heaviest moments on the record -- and most disturbing by a long shot -- are at the end of "At the Base of the Giant's Throat" (the band will not discuss this section, by the way): a 911 call of a woman being either beaten or worse while the phone keeps listening. To call parts of this record harrowing would be spot-on, but it can also be delicate, heavy, precious, and dreamlike. No mean feat, really. A Day of Nights is a perfect example of pushing the confines of metal and rock aside and really letting go. An amazing piece of work, hands down.

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