Sound — 10
If you have seen live footage of this band, you would have seen some very skilled musicians. Tyondai Braxton plays guitar, keyboard and creates live voice samples, Ian Williams basically plays keyboard with his right hand and guitar with his left, Dave Kanopka providing super low end and switching to guitar and effects racks. All of them constantly manipulating sounds with effects. Meanwhile, providing the back bone of the whole thing is John Stanier on drums. This recording is a piece of art that you can dance to. Sometimes you will not know what is going on. Such is the way of the math-rock.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics on this album are typical of the genre of math-rock. That is to say that when Tyondai is singing, the focus is more upon the vocal effects rather than the lyrics, and the vocals become another part of the soundscape. On the lead single "Atlas" he sings 'singer is a crook, kitchen is for cook, whoa-oh-oh' which is put through some interesting pitch bent effects and complimented with beat boxing. Lyrics are not the main focus of the album, and are often unintelligible. That said, the vocal embellishments do compliment the music very well and are completely pleasing to listen to.
Overall Impression — 9
I haven't listened to very many math-rock artists before Battles, but I'd say that this album would be a great place to start listening to the genre. Stand out tracks for me would be "Atlas", "Leyendecker", "Ddiamondd", and "Tonto". Drums by ex-Helmet drummer, John Stanier, are simply amazing and they are probably the defining aspect of the CD. Having said that, all four of these skilled musicians are incredible and bring something to the mix which I personally have not heard before. At least not heard it done so well. My only beef is with some of the shorter songs. Which I found myself really liking, only to find them suddenly be over.