Batillus - Concrete Sustain
Seventh Rule Recordings
Sludge/Doom Metal
6 songs (36:59)
Release year: 2013
Seventh Rule Recordings
Reviewed by Koeppe
Album of the year

Batillus, also known as the heaviest band you haven’t fall in love with yet, have released their sophomore LP this year, surprisingly only their second full-length after 2011’s immaculate, Furnace, despite their large number of total releases in the form of EPs and splits. If traditional doom bands’ sounds conjure images of solitary haunted scenes of despair then Batillus’ calls forth the bleak nature of the (post-)industrial cityscape, a realm of solitude and angst that comes from not being alone but being disengaged amidst a million other folks.

Their sound could be bracketed into two eras, the earlier being one in which they were a more straightforward sludge band minus vocals and their more recent releases being crushingly heavy with vocals that only exacerbate the despair reflected in the plodding doom riffs. While Furnace was more traditional in its use of sludge metal riffs in simply being heavy, Concrete Sustain goes a different direction in incorporating industrial elements to create what might be considered the heaviest yet immediately catchy album that I have ever come across. Catchy has the wrong connotations: the grooves on this album are simply infectious.

The riffs on the album vary back and forth between clean and sludgy. The thickness of some of these riffs pounds their hooks into your skull. The stoner groove of Rust is simply undeniable; the opening bass chords set the pace for the rest of the track as something immediately digestible while intricate enough to impress the cultivated listener. Fade Kainer’s raspy shouts are a perfect complement to the hooks as they suit the rhythm so well while never devolving into melodiousness. His strongest performance on the album comes on the opener Concrete as he growls some nasty snarls, but also operates synthesizers and samplers to add industrial disjuncts to the flow of the song that slow and disrupt the pace. The song is carried by the disconnect between the bleakness of his contributions and the crushing riffs with the light-sounding tapping of the snare. The drumming never goes much beyond the use of the snare, which by itself sounds so pleasant juxtaposed with the crushing doom. Throughout the album, the bass has a bounce to it that is simply funky. This is best reflected in the opening of Cast, a song that is a plodding build-up to a crescendo; the band doing that post-rock trope better than the likes of those that invented it. Mirrors opts to not follow such a linear structure by constantly shifting tempos, bracketed by Kainer’s noisy samplings. The sound bounces between open-ended psychedelia and succinct punishing choruses, reminiscent of Deadweight off their last album with that heavier than thou riff against Kainer's unworldly snarls.

Overall, the album isn’t perfect, but it is incredibly good. Batillus takes everything and the kitchen sink, from hardcore to drone to post-rock, and blends it into an odd warped doom metal that is all their own. This album is more experimental than their debut, but it pays off in being able to tow the line betwixt catchy and dissonant without ever boring the listener.

Killing Songs :
Concrete, Rust, Mirrors
Koeppe quoted 87 / 100
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