Album: Battle Hymns EP

Artist: The Western Den

Skip To: Desert Ground

I love EPs because I can go more in depth when reviewing each song. I also hate them, because good ones leave me wanting more, and they’re just too short! Battle Hymns, an ambient folk EP, carries a marching tone throughout, a slight feel of going into battle, hence the name. However, even with this thread, each song is incredibly distinct. Battle Hymns begins with “For the Sake of Seeking,” a track that sets off the EP with fullness and resolve. Vocal instrumentation – the “oo”s or any vocals that add to the sound but aren’t lyrical and a term I made up to sound like I know what the crap I’m talking about – is a vital part of the song, and The Western Den implements it especially well. Excellent use of piano as a base and violin as an accent also characterize the introductory track.

Lyrically, each song centers around a story or character. The next song, “Desert Ground,” feels like an old folk tale or even a campfire story, documenting a chilling tale of a hot air balloon crashing down in the desert. Repetition coupled with a mild crescendo in the chorus perpetuate the characters’ inevitable doom. The eerie, layered vocals and the echoing violin give the song an “archaic” feel. It is by far the most haunting of the four songs, which is what I love so much about it.

“The Minister” maintains that darkness. It starts out minor, following a minister who has come to the end of himself in his relentless efforts to save souls. Just like “For the Sake of Seeking,” the song has superb piano, violin, and vocal instrumentation, but to a completely different effect. It is much more forlorn, as the music reflects the great weariness that the lyrics depict. But as the EP draws to a close, hope comes back around in “First Light,” which ends with the message that night will always pass. While it relies heavily on acoustic guitar and a little ambient violin through the majority of the song, it picks up the energy in the chorus and adds in banjo and piano for backing, and the song contains a lovely violin solo between the chorus and the bridge. “First Light” wraps up a wonderful little gem of an EP.