Where Furnace was already sonically weighty, Concrete Sustain sees the band expanding their palate. In addition to their bowel-shaking tone, the synths and noise provided by vocalist/noisemaker Fade Kainer take on a more prominent role. Their presence on Furnace was understated and accentual, while here they are on more equal footing.
Concrete Sustain’s 37 minutes of downtuned glory begins with the magnificent “Concrete.” Right from the get-go the feel of the album differs from Furnace. Noisy elements lend an almost alien feel to the monolithic riffs reverberating through our seemingly insignificant grey matter.
Sanford Parker’s excellent production brings every aspect into sharp focus, allowing Greg Peterson’s crushing riffs to really encompass your entire being; transporting you beyond the here and now. When it comes right down to it, the drum riffs (yeah, they sound like riffs) laid down by Geoff Summers are worth the price of purchase all on their own.
Throughout the album each song takes on its own personality while following the same general aesthetic. “Cast” pulsates with menace with Fainer’s vocals lording over Will Stabenau’s driving bass. The ominous and monumental funeral doom of “Beset” and the highly destructive sludge and clang of “Mirrors” are beasts of their own.
This review is being written on a train while traveling to and from Toronto; a world that makes me uncomfortable and lost, much like Concrete Sustain. However, as the urban landscape rolls by, the visuals match perfectly with the feelings emitted from the album. The synths give the album a very naturally industrial essence. One can almost feel the lack of organic space.
This mechanical and distinctly urban aura radiates with a sense of disconnection, as if despite being surrounded by a dense population, isolation is the predominant feeling. There’s a sense of despondency to it all, one laced with angst and fury. That feeling of frustration with the falseness of humanity pervades the album until the final track. “Thorns” brings plodding and funereal doom to the fore. The track oozes with melancholy as it trudges through its nearly nine minute runtime. At this point hopelessness sets in as the intensely depressing tone drags the listener to a forgotten grave.
Concrete Sustain is a powerful and intense doom record with enough industrial touch to make it stand out amidst the hordes of doom bands blindly basing albums solely on tone. While Batillus do utilize the destructive power of sonics and monumental riffs to enrapture the listener with dense reverberations, the added layers construct an intangible nuance to make it a deep hearted experience.
Concrete Sustain filters the hard edged and bleak urban landscape through heartfelt and meaningful industro-doom, cementing Batillus near the top of the heap. Put on your best heavy-lidded scowl and prepare to sustain and dominate. (released March 19, 2013 on Seventh Rule Recordings)