BUT NO SERIOUSLY CHECK OUT BATILLUS’ FURNACE
If I might, I’d like to examine a very specific section from the song “Deadweight,” which appears on Furnace, the new release from Batillus.
The section in question begins at roughly the 4:14 mark, when vocalist Fade Kainer commands us to “FALL ON YOUR KNEES!” with enough force that no one would blame listeners if they did just that. The accompanying riff — one of my favorites on the album — just fucking ROCKS, and Batillus, being a doom band, repeat it several times, and then repeat a slight variation of it several times. But they don’t beat it dead into the ground; there never comes a moment when you’re like, “All right, ENOUGH already!” (This is a problem which, if you have ears you already know, plagues most doom bands.) They avoid this pratfall of their peers in two ways: 1) by just knowing when it’s time to play a different riff (duh), and 2) by making constant changes to the riff so that, even if technically the same notes are getting played over and over again, it really never sounds the same way twice. They change the emphasis of where certain guitar strokes land; at one point I think there’s some palm-muting going on; there’s a moment where it actually feels like, somehow, they make all of time slow down, even if just for a few bars. Batillus are so skilled at creating these variations, in fact, that when they do transition to the next section of the song, you have a moment of “NO! DUDES KEEP GOING!” In other words, they actually leave you wanting more, which, again, is a concept lost on so, so many doom bands.
But despite your protests, that transition will transpire. In the case of “Deadweight,” the next section of the song is a guitar solo that is, well… “filthy” wouldn’t really do it justice… it’s diseased, is what it is. Putrid and rotting and diseased. In other words, just a great fucking guitar solo.
And these two sections of this one song on Furnace perfectly exemplify why I love this album so much that it made my penis explode. Batillus can write a crushing tune like nobody’s business, but, more than that, they can write a crushing tune that demands you pay attention and listen again and again and again (and with good headphones or quality speakers). Furnace may seem neanderthal in its rage, but it’s incredibly intelligent — and downright introspective — in its execution.
And the album is riddled with stretches like this one — moments which will keep you up nights examining and re-examining them. They keep you on the edge of your seat — when some Jesu-esque synths appear roughly five minutes into “What Heart,” they seem to change the entire tone of the song — and they make the album feel alive, emotional, and, frankly, a fuckload more and downright terrifying than most metal releases.
Often at the same time: the aforementioned “What Heart” starts out as an example of elephants not so much marching as slowly dying of thirst in the desert, but after those synths arrive, it feels almost (Dare I say it?!) hopeful, not morose. (Remember that the title is a statement, not a question.) “Mautaam” certainly sounds worthy of being named after a particularly unpleasant-sounding ecological phenomenon — it’s like metal’s answer to No Exit, just a black hole of suffering and loss — but then it ends with, like, the catchiest rock riff that every band in Brooklyn is trying to write. I know it’s a cliché to use the phrase “a roller coaster ride of emotions,” but, really, that’s what each song is.
Furnace’s only shortcoming, in my opinion at least, is that there are a couple of places where it lays on the atmosphere/drone stuff a little too thick. I am ready for “The Division” and “Mautaam” to fucking begin by the time they begin, if that makes sense. I’m probably the wrong audience for those sections, because my tolerance for ambient noise that isn’t car horns stuck in traffic is fairly limited, but these parts sometimes feel disruptive to the FUCKING METAL, which, let’s be real, is why we’re all here.
Of course, that’s only like a couple of minutes out of Furnace’s 44 minute-plus running time, so, really, why complain? Furnace is fucking awesome. Fucking awesome fucking awesome fucking awesome. Now go get it.
(four out of five horns)