Released: 2013, Seventh Rule Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
New York's Battilus take their name from a French supertanker, once one of the largest ships in the world, that plied the seas from the mid-1970s to the mid-80s. It certainly is a fitting moniker. Their music is long, steely, methodical and laden with black ick, plowing ever forward and pushing everything out of its way in a wave of mechanized drone.
The quartet certainly aren't your typical contemporary doom merchants, content to recycle old Sabbath riffs in a THC-induced haze of scruffy beards and hipster conceit. With their smattering of synths and industrial effects, and Geoff Summers' often martial percussion, Batillus owe as much to Godflesh as anyone else on Concrete Sustain, their second full-length. And despite a sonic palette that is the very antithesis of black metal's blurry histrionics, Fade Kainer's feral shout-and-shriek vocals bring enough blackened overtones here to make it genuinely sinister.
Indeed, Concrete Sustain is apocalyptic and then some. There's no stoner chill or trippiness. The urbanized clangor of “Cast” and “Rust” are all about menace and might as Greg Peterson's Bunyan-esque riffs stride over Willi Stabenau's quaking bottom end. The layer of noise Kainer sneaks in around the edges only lends to the forboding aura.
“Thorns” provides a grim finality to this behemoth, lurching and creaking along over nine funereal minutes. It's all-ahead slow to an inevitable end, an epic bummer that is more likely to make one reach for sharp objects than another fatty. And that's the way “doom” should be.