Thursday, June 10, 2010
Batillus/Hallowed Butchery - Split 12" (Vendetta Records)
Batillus: a band comprised of members of bands such as A Storm of Light and Inswarm and takes extreme doom to the extreme. Described by many as an ultra slow doom outfit, and this being my first experience with their sound, I have to say that they honestly seem to be a lot more diverse in styles than they are given. Listening to the “Children of the Night Make Their Music” track, they remind me more of bands like Flood and Cervix, Beast in the Field, maybe Elder in spots as well, but the name-dropping isn’t the important part here. The three installments by Batillus are epic and psychedelic doom inspired tracks, they have megaton weighted riffs, an almost Isis/Minsk atmosphere in areas that is equal parts dense and melodic, and a great variation of tempos. At some points it’s an all out free-for-all jam fest of boogie grooves and heavy psyche components, then it’s this calm black ocean that begins to stir from a massive storm building up beneath the ominous surface that becomes the gargantuan riffs of gloom and doom that strike down upon the listener without any warning.
To me it’s mixing the brilliance of bands like Isis/Minsk and throw in some doom and cataclysmic disparity of Evoken/Esoteric, then add a huge amount of classic doom rhythms and you get somewhere in the vicinity of what is here. It’s one of those bands that you want to label and fit nicely into a comparison because that’s what sells albums, but it’s unfair at times because the spectrum is so damn broad with bands this good. I will now be a confirmed Batillus fan, and probably play their tunes as much as I do the other bands mentioned. With talent like this you get that sense of flow throughout, the unpredictable yet perfectly placed changes within each track, and the atmosphere with a small sense of bluesy and psyche sparks that makes it addicting as much as successful. Regardless of the who or what, the strength of this release is monolithic and it’s definitely one for established fans and new discoverers of this band.
Hallowed Butchery: a solo prog-doom project masterfully pulled off by Ryan Scott Fairfield makes up the last portion of this split with his ambitious and brilliant “Coffin Life”. For some insider information about this track, which is essential to understand it, I’ll digress for a few sentences. This is a conceptual piece about a man born and raised in rural Maine who basically commits suicide to escape his horrid monotonous life and be reunited with his dead wife. Things don’t work out the way they should and he realizes that nothing lies on the other side, including his late wife and the realization that his life and hers are now reduced to simply laying in adjacent coffins, ironically living a now “everlasting” existence without her and back to uneventful and standard daily goings on.
This track is as complicated to describe as fluorescent colors would be to a blind-man, as it is with many things so much easier to experience then to get it second hand. The track starts out in a compressed almost Neurosis style slow and funereal sludge/doom riff assault complete with great bluesy riffs and solo bits thrown in that scream 70’s doom groove. Honestly for the first 2 minutes it’s a bit more like the Batillus sound, then suddenly it starts to run a marathon through quicksand as it gradually slows to a hault before plunging into the Esoteric/Evoken abyss of funereal black doom for about three minutes.
At the 5 minute mark the acoustic guitar begins an almost folksy passage and suddenly you have a beautiful and tragic song about his body weakening and slipping away into obscurity complete with lyrics describing his death. You almost feel your own mortality begin to fade out as the song switches into a Wolves in The Throne Room like black shoe-gaze metal riff tornado complete with the vocal style and all.
Around the 10-11 minute mark the track suddenly goes to a proggy doom feel and then comes to a grandiose end. The classic moog-like synth and effects really bring out the kraut and spacey feel of his afterlife realization. What a fucking ride!!!! Everything that you could ever want in a band, all of the best influences and sounds whipped up into this 14 minute hurricane of audio. It’s damn near impossible to accept that it’s ALL Ryan doing this too. The vocal styles change, the guitars, bass, drum, and synth work is flawless and it’s mixed so well that you’d swear that it was a full band.
This split is one of the best albums that I’ve heard in a while, and I’ve heard many, and missed some as well. Essential for fans of: Minsk, Isis, Mouth of the Architect, Neurosis, Wolves in the Throne Room, Evoken, Esoteric, Hellas Mounds, Rosetta, Nachtmystium (from Instinct Decay onward). A colossal and sophisticated dark and psychedelic/black/doom influenced masterpiece…yes, it’s a masterpiece.