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Batillus - "Concrete Sustain" (CD)

Batillus - "Concrete Sustain" CD cover image

"Concrete Sustain" track listing:

1. Concrete (5:44)
2. Cast (4:11)
3. Beset (7:50)
4. Mirrors (5:10)
5. Rust (5:09)
6. Thorns (8:52)

Reviewed by on March 25, 2013

"Starting out as a slow-moving instrumental doom act with massively long tracks, the group now uses harsh vocals, throws in electronic sounds, and plays songs closer to radio length. Is that evolution or de-evolution?"

It’s no question that bands have to change over time, as even a stellar sound that stagnates and never evolves eventually becomes tiresome and old. Batillus presents an interesting case of watching changes occur over a discography, with the band going in the opposite direction of what might be expected. Starting out as a slow-moving instrumental doom act with massively long tracks, the group now uses harsh vocals, throws in electronic sounds, and plays songs closer to radio length. Is that evolution or de-evolution?

The tone of “Concrete Sustain” is vastly different from all past output, from the self-titled EP (reviewed here) all the way up to last album “Furnace” (reviewed here). The focus has shifted towards industrial and electronic sounds, and the vocals play a much bigger role. While the last album introduced vocals for the first time, there were still large swathes of instrumental material, which is no longer the case. The songs have also been trimmed, with the 11-minute marathons disappearing in the rear view mirror, replaced by tracks tempered down into four and five minute territory.

The album unfortunately starts off on a low note, as “Concrete” is quite uninspired and, despite being under six minutes, overstays its welcome. Unlike what Batillus had done in the past, this song somehow forgot to add the punch to the slower moving aspects - after all, a battering ram is only effective if it eventually hits something. The following track “Cast” has a bit more energy, and then the longer running “Beset” moves more towards the Batillus of old, with riffs that still pack a wallop even when trudging along through quicksand.

“Mirrors” and “Rust” are probably the most effective tracks at mixing the different styles present on the disc, creating a unique atmosphere, while balancing electronic sounds with big, booming guitars. The chanted vocals on ending track “Thorns” are another new addition, but they feel a little misplaced in this style of music, being both overshadowed by the surrounding music and not quite meshing with it perfectly.

“Concrete Sustain” isn’t an actively bad album; it’s just not an outstanding one either. There’s plenty of individual segments that work well (like the psychedelic guitars on “Beset”), and the second half tends to be more exciting than the first, but overall, this album is the band’s least interesting output so far. But then again, with how much Batillus has changed over time, who can say if the next release will even sound anything at all like “Concrete Sustain”?

Highs: Some of the new electronic/industrial/psychedelic elements work well...

Lows: ...but some of them really don't. There also seems to be a limpness to the slower-moving parts that wasn't present on earlier works.

Bottom line: Batillus cuts down the song lengths and tries a host of new musical elements, to differing degrees of success.

Rated 3.0 out of 5 skulls
3.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)