Bloody-knuckled Brooklynites Batillus are almost irrationally doomy these days. Their abysses of sucking blackness manifested themselves time and time again via a bountiful two-year churn of three self-released EPs. But their just-released debut Furnace (Seventh Rule) is a a 51-minute Godzilla of misanthropy, a maelstrom of sheer apocalyptic terror. Back in March 2010, they had just added the the throat workouts of ex-Inswarm vocalist and soundscapist Fade Kainer to their monolithic instru-metal riff skyscrapers. Their first album together expands their palette and ambitions–there’s the occasional black-metal churn, crackling forest-fire ambience, harrowing voids of negative space, and even a few colorful synthy atmospherics (fun fact: they’re closet Depeche Mode fans). “Deadweight,” one of the record’s highlights, is actually one of their most melodic moments to date, a distortion-soaked gray tidal wave of synths and slime, the bile-spattered point before Godflesh goes full-on Jesu. Kainer’s performance (“FALL ON YOUR KNEES!”) is total goosebump fodder, peaked-out and in the blood-fucking-red, the tonsil equivalent of one of guitarist Greg Peterson’s boulder-cracking riffs. Yipes!
What is “Deadweight” about?
Fade Kainer, vocals/synths: “Deadweight” is about becoming aware of all the false things we give power to, and coming to realize through suffering that truth is not an external structure to be acquired.
What inspired it musically?
Geoff Summers, drums: We just wanted to write a song that was unrelenting from beginning to end–flogging the listener incessantly without pause or clemency.
Do you remember anything about recording this song in particular?
Summers: This is the one and only song on Furnace that was recorded to a click track. This was a conscious decision: We wanted this one to sound more rigid than the others. Most bands these days record everything to a click, but generally we try to avoid that because it’s stifling and doesn’t let the music properly breathe. For “Deadweight,” however, we wanted that sense of inelasticity and strength.
What has been the most interesting reaction from someone about the addition of vocals to your lineup?
Summers: Nearly all reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, which makes sense because Fade has really completed the band. There have been some people who are stuck on the notion that Batillus was and must forever be an instrumental band but those people just don’t seem to get that the band was incomplete before Fade joined. The first EP we did was instrumental, yes, but not because we set out with the goal in mind of releasing instrumental music. It was either sit on our asses while we waited for the right guy to come along for the vocal job or keep working and writing and recording and progressing. And I think the choice there is pretty obvious.
Tell me about your decision to release Furnace via “name your price” download.
Summers: Well, that was Scott [Flaster, Seventh Rule co-owner]’s decision, but we support him 100%. After all, we’re no strangers to offering free MP3s to our fans. The music industry has been revolutionized by the internet and to resist this revolution is pointless and futile. If people want to download our MP3s for free, so be it. We accept it, even encourage it. Just come to a show or buy a shirt or LP if you like what we’re doing, that’s all we ask.
When was the last time you injured yourself on stage?
Summers: We don’t tend to get too rowdy on stage like all the deathcore kids do. We’re not smashing each other on the dome with our headstocks or anything. Fade once fell through the stage floor onto the ground floor below, but I think that was with Jarboe…
Batillus’s record release party is Saturday, April 23 at Union Pool with Morne and Belus
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 21, 2011