Batillus – Furnace …   Leave a comment

Confession time again, I have never use to like Batillus, the avant-garde doom act from New York, nothing had ever clicked with me even though I own a couple of their earlier releases. So this makes the ‘Furnace’ album such a surprise because this is a very good album indeed. It is not that they have changed direction or anything but this album simply crushes in a way that the other releases didn’t in my opinion. Where as I had trouble staying focuses on their songs before, this album is mostly totally mesmerizing. So Batillus have delivered the goods this time around and I am now officially a fan of the band. Why this album has won me over where as the other releases have failed is a bit of a mystery but I can only put it down to how these songs gel with their hypnotic hooks. This doom quartet have made an album that is just as heavy, sludge-packed and atmospheric as earlier works but the songs this time around seem far more accessible though the use of more traditional riffing while still keeping the cinematic ambiance that the band is known for.

The opening 9 minute sludge-fest ‘…And The World Is As Night To Them’ is a good example of their newly found accessibility. The band still plays mostly as an instrumental act even though there is vocals here and there and it is these long-instrumental passages that hook you in. The band crawls for the most part with a claustrophobic atmosphere that is full with menace. They still tend to drag ideas out and this opening cut would have been more effective if trimmed down by a minute or two but it still a powerful example of atmospheric sludge that is not exactly original but still very distinctive. ‘Deadweight’ is perhaps the most accessible song here and it is very short by Batillus standards. This track however is the worst selection on the album in my view but it is still very listenable because of some great psychedelic doom riffage especially in the tracks second half.

‘Uncreator’ is an odd track in as much as it is largely centered around multi-layered vocals which is certainly not the norm for this band. It is also very short so when the album is all done and over with, it is kind of forgettable. ‘The Division’ and the two tracks that follow is where the album really hits its peak and never let’s go. ‘The Division’s’ only misstep is the over-long feedback intro but after that it is a monster of hypnotic sludge-doom. The band pulverizes here, in slow-motion of course but the controlled haunting ambience is stunning. The musicianship within the band has never been a problem, this band knows their stuff but they have taken a big leap forward in the atmosphere on this album. In the past, I thought that their songs had an atmosphere similar to many other sludge, ambient, drone and funeral doom acts but on ‘Furnace’ they have created a vibe that is all theirs and is very unique.

The album closers ‘What Heart’ and ‘Mautaam’ are back-to-back gems that are colossal doses of marauding sludge and one thing has to be said. This is one hell of a heavy sound they get on this recording. The sound is wonderfully captured by producer Sanford Parker and the result is one of the heaviest albums released this year, it is apocalyptic, sometimes extremely ugly but always steeped in atmospheric claustrophobia. ‘Mautaam’ does have one flaw that is common-place on this album and that is it is too long, one idea in particular is bled to death and so I cant help but get the urge to hit stop a few minutes before the song and albums conclusion. However, tiny flaws aside, this is a monumental piece of work from Batillus that has some of the most interesting and brutally blackened passages of sludge-doom released this year. Yes, some songs go on too long and some techniques are overused but that is a minor gripe, this is a very solid and impressive release that will melt your eardrums……..8/10

Batillus official
Batillus @ MySpace

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Posted June 16, 2011 by doommantia in Batillus

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