The issue that I had with Furnace, the 2011 debut album from Brooklyn's doom metal band Batillus was that it kept losing my interest after the first two songs. Don't get me wrong, I love those first couple tracks and the overall chilling atmosphere of that album, but I just found myself getting sidetracked every time I tried to listen to the entire record. Going into their new album Concrete Sustain. I was hopeful that they would create a full product that would hold my attention from start to finish. Turns out they did.
Concrete Sustain begins with a killer opening track, "Concrete." A song that reminds me of early Swans. Especially in the song's use of an odd percussion sample that sounds like a steel trashcan or a broken cymbal. It's very similar to the abrupt and loud cymbal in Swan's first track, "Half Life" off their album Cop. Immediately upon listen you may notice how heavy, unique, and oddly catchy this song is. After a few listens I found myself knowing the words to the chorus, "sustain and dominate through concrete."
One of the things that makes this album so unique is the production. Especially in the guitar tone which is incredibly dry, crunchy, and warm. It sounds as though it's plugged in directly to the board or played through an electric amplifier. The bass is very prominent and helps the guitar tone out in areas where it sounds empty.
Guitar tone isn't the only area of uniqueness on the album. The drums sound really quite bizarre with hardly any sustain on the cymbals and what sounds like a drum machine snare at times. On certain songs, especially the second track "Cast," the snare sounds like it's literally exploding with each hit. This, as well as the electronics and vocal effects, add a certain industrial sound to the record reminiscent of Godflesh. The vocals are high and low throaty screams that are often echoed and delayed with effects.
The third track titled, "Beset" serves as a great example of the vocal creativity found on this album. After the initial pummeling of the first two songs, this track takes on a slower more plodding approach. This allows for the vocalist, Fade Kainer, to showcase his ability to successfully add layers and effects to his vocals.
"Beset" gives the listener a short break as the next song, "Mirrors" picks up where the first two left off. "Mirrors" is probably the heaviest song on the album as the final minute sounds like a doom metal chugging stampede, equipped with Batillus' signature exploding snare.
"Rust" is probably where most of the Godflesh and industrial comparisons come from. I would however argue that Batillus have a very original sound and any similarities to other bands are very minimal.
The album ends with the longest song, "Thorns," at nearly nine minutes. This is a great final track that shows the band exploring the darker more emotional elements that their first album Furnace displayed. A very gloomy and slow post-metal(ish) vibe. It features a different style of singing than all the other songs. As there seem to be a chamber of voices singing in deep monotone that help sooth and relax the listener. This is quite welcomed after the sore neck you'll probably get from head banging to the other five previous songs.
Batillus have made the leap you would hope a promising band would make from their debut to their sophomore album on Concrete Sustain. A seemingly perfect blend of doom, black, industrial, and experimentation. Batillus are on top of their game and it is definitely THEIR game, as no other modern doom band are doing what Batillus are doing. The entire album is incredibly listenable, especially since it clocks in at around 37 minutes, which is a nice to see from a doom band. The short length, the catchy songs, the brutal and unique sound, all come together to make an overall excellent album. This effort will definitely place high on my year end list and the song, "Concrete," may go down as my favorite song of the year.
9.0 / 10
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