Having released his first full-length sized EP last year, Ryan Fairfield's Hallowed Butchery has slowly but surely caused a stir in the underground metal scene. By combining the popular, “foresty” take on black metal and giving it a hot injection of testosterone-filled, balls-out doom and a touch of Neil Young-tinged Americana, Hallowed Butchery's “Funeral Rites for the Living” was met with critical acclaim from a criminally small (but loyal) fan base. Here we see Fairfield's triumphant return not a year later in the form of a split with a band I'd never heard of until now, New York doom band Batillus.
Batillus starts off this split with three tracks with cojones larger than any pair of the roomiest boxers could contain. This Brooklyn band aims to simultaneously impress and destroy their listening audience with crushing riffs, booming bass, massive drums, and vocals that I would imagine are done by a very large, anthropomorphic tree. (Note: Vocalist/synthesizer player Fade Kainer's impressive back catalog boasts work with the enigmatic Jarboe and industrial bands Inswarm and Still Life Decay.)
Atmosphere is a key element in Batillus's style of doom metal. Through mixing extreme heaviness with warm low tones and distant ambiance, we are presented an original take on a now-tired genre. What sticks out the most out of these three gigantic songs happens to be the second offering, “The Children Of The Night Make Their Music,” which contains parts that are reminiscent of Undertow-era TOOL; a difficult task to pull off. This reviewer will definitely spend time searching around for Batillus's previous releases (an EP wonderfully named “Beard Destroyer Tour” and a self-titled release), in hopes that these will be just as impressive as this, my introduction to Batillus.
Hallowed Butchery cuts right to the chase with his two tracks. The deceptively named “An Introduction” isn't just an introduction track, it's one of the fiercest doom tracks I've heard in a very long time. These songs feature guitars which are detuned to, what my friends and I affectionately call, “drop fuck,” which is essentially a tuning so low that you just HAVE to headbang to it. Now I admit, I'm one of those hipsters who rarely headbangs while seeing a live band because I just want to “experience the music” and all that other bullshit, but I find myself bobbing my head to the various rhythms and slow doom patterns found in these two songs.
The fourteen-minute monster “Coffin Life,” which closes the split, deals with the futility of life, possibly the worthlessness of unrequited desire due to the repeated “I'm dead without you” clean line around 8:48 in. The song kicks in much in the sludgey, angry style of the introduction, but slowly turns itself into a calm folk song with clean vocals. One of the coolest (read as: most disturbing) parts of the song is the transition between the folk section and the subsequent “epic” section, in which Fairfield says,
followed by the cocking of a gun and a gunshot which overlaps the loud, mid-paced, almost Deftones-esque section (see above “I'm dead without you” comment). “Coffin Life” is definitely the most impressive Hallowed Butchery song, as it is the first time Ryan Fairfield drew out a song as long as he possibly could while still retaining its overall catchiness and memorability. Plus, it has some kickass almost-70s-progressive rock synthesizers that come in around 12 minutes in. What's not to like about that?
This split as a whole has been a terrific adventure through the new scene of United States doom metal. Things look promising for both these bands, and though I'm not sure what's in Batillus's future (I hope it's as awesome as I think it's going to be), Hallowed Butchery aims to please with many new releases on the horizon. Expect splits with Falls of Rauros and The Austrasian Goat and a new full-length album within the next year. I'm excited, are you?
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