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Batillus - "Batillus" (CD/EP)

Batillus - "Batillus" CD/EP cover image

"Batillus" track listing:

1. Gravel Chime (11:12)
2. Make Me An Iron Hand (10:44)
3. Kamala (10:20)

Reviewed by on March 6, 2009

"'Batillus' is a bleak, parched, and empty desert landscape punctuated with occasional sudden blast offs into space."

Doom bands often get described as huge lumbering battering rams, methodically smashing into their listeners over long periods of time. The problem with battering rams is that they’re one trick wonders. They only do one thing, so even if they do it well, they can get old fast. A three piece doom band from New York decided to pass over the battering ram stage and go for something on a grander scale. Taking the name Batillus, a class of massive super tankers, they mimic their namesake well. Why bother to ram something when a battle ship has such a wide array of other impressive weaponry with which to wreak destruction?

The self-titled debut EP from Batillus only sports three tracks, but with each between 10 and 11 minutes long it certainly isn’t lacking in the length department. Since there are quite a few extreme metal acts out there that would take anything approaching half an hour to be a full length album, the band already has a leg up over the competition when it comes to providing musical content. Batillus has the quantity down and the quality is pretty solid as well, especially considering that during the entire 33 minutes there is never a single second of vocals. The band recently mentioned in an interview that they are on the hunt for a vocalist to fill that particular void. While some of the faster paced parts would be well suited with accompanying vocals, a great deal of Batillus’ style is drawn from the lack of too much noise in long stretches. In those instances throwing in a voice might actually do more harm than good.

The EP starts off with another highly appropriate naming convention, titling the track “Gravel Chime.” If there ever was a sound like a never ending stretch of gravel road, this is it. The first sound is a drawn out guitar note with a long trailing feedback. It ends a lot sooner than would be expected and is soon followed by several more that fire off just a bit quicker than in the average doom or drone style song. The slower bits show up soon enough and drag on for a good deal of time, making use of the spaces between sounds to produce a big effect. Some unexpected changes occur as the song progresses, such as an odd sound effect filter on the guitar for a fluid and liquid feel that is almost trippy enough to breach fully into stoner territory.

The ending track “Kamala” also houses several interesting departures from the standard low tuned theme. The entire first minute uses some kind of percussion that sounds almost like a tambourine along with a bass line to give off an image of a wanderer in spur clad boots heading aimlessly through a desert. The guitar fades in and out at different levels and in odd patterns to provide a very psychedelic experience. Just when it appears that they are planning on leaving the doom aspect behind entirely the guitars suddenly switch to a very low tuning again and start their heavy and distorted droning.

“Batillus” is a bleak, parched, and empty desert landscape punctuated with occasional sudden blast offs into space. The very nature of doom demands repetition, but the band manages to throw in enough variations and changes to the basic structure to ensure that there are very few boring segments in epic ten minute songs. The songs all also flow exceedingly well into each other, giving the impression not of three tracks but instead of one song that has three segments. Doom enthusiasts should get a good run out of this debut EP, as should fans of psychedelic stoner metal.

Highs: Makes good use of the doom theme and puts on a lot of interesting twists

Lows: Some repitition inherent from playing doom, some may be put off by the lack of vocals

Bottom line: A very solid doom debut with occasional stoner metal twists

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

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)