The 2011 debut full-length from New York’s Batillus, Furnace was crushing, oppressive, bleak and morose, one of the top dark horse doom metal albums of the year. Not content to remain within those parameters, the band has undergone a facelift for its new album Concrete Sustain. In addition to an abundance of trudging, mid-paced riffs played on densely distorted guitar and bass, Batillus have built a framework of counterpoint rhythms that provide tension and contrast: Grinding, whirring industrial samples abound, as do textural washes of feedback that border on the post-rock nihilism of Neurosis.
The opening track, “Concrete,” with its monochromatic beat and spare, gut-shaking riffs resembles a more animated Godflesh, while the more complex “Thorns,” driven by ominous, reverberant guitars and melodic vocal chants, sounds like a heavily-sedated Mastodon. Concrete Sustain‘s knock-out punch is Batillus’s ability to retain a head-bobbing groove regardless of the tempo or the atmosphere of the songs. “Rust,” which moves from being down-tuned and menacing to a drifting mid-section full of heavy breathing and dissonant chords, is held together by a subtle but omnipresent pulse that keeps the listener glued. Credit percussionist Geoff Summers, who’s equally adept at maintaining minimal beats with glistening ride cymbal taps and syncopated bass drumming as he is at stuttering snare strikes and rolling drum fills.
While Concrete Sustain might have benefited from a couple of uptempo songs (such as Furnace‘s pace-shifting “Uncreator”) Batillus have effectively proven that they’re capable of way more than the next great doom band.