New York’s Batillus released their second full-length album on Seventh Rule Recordings, March 19th, 2013, “Concrete Sustain” with their unwavering line-up of Willi Stabenau (bass), Geoff Summers (drums), Greg Peterson (guitar) and Fade Kainer (vocals/keyboard.) Fade introduced me to this project of his after meeting at a festival in Norway while he toured with Jarboe, where I also got my hands on a copy of Inswarm’s “Surely Death Is No Dream” (another project of his with Josh Lozano I wish he’d bring back.) By far his biggest success to date and one that has been gaining momentum along with tour dates across the globe, Batillus have rose into view as an interesting and innovative resurgence of industrial music incorporating elements of doom/sludge making them prevalent in the New York scene.
Blackened sludge tracks such as ‘Beset’ and ‘Thorns’ have a vibe similar to that of bands like Thou and The Body, while maintaining their industrial distinction, breaking up vocal styles with low somber speak amidst the crackle of growls. Being some of the longest tracks on the album, they seemed to capture more of my interest. ‘Thorns’ with its perfectly formulated anti-climax to sink the mood in true doom fashion and ‘Beset’ with its masochistically agonizing pace that kept me chained to the pits of hell.
For those less fond of a sluggish pace, the album has much more to offer. ‘Mirrors’ reaps metallic havoc on a 90’s industrial vibes. Ambient guitars swim in a sea of synth and static, long held growls, flickering whispers, wavering feedback and chiming bells to summate, sprinkles me with a touch of skinny puppy nostalgia. Even ‘Concrete,’ ‘Cast’ and ‘Rust’ sound more like their previous album “Furnace” and have that mid tempo New York, Unsane noise rock vibe. Unfortunately drums acted more as background noise and captured nothing more than their place in the mix. In a genre however where synth is dominant, they weren’t really made for the spotlight and although and highlighted drum fill would have been nice, they served their purpose.
When all is said and done, it’s hard to dismiss the fact that Batillus are a creative force to be reckoned with, producing record after record unlike much else in the market today. For industrial metal fans in search of something heavier “Concrete Sustain” is a must to pick up this year, though in my opinion “Furnace” may have been the greater success.