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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Review: BAT - Wings Of Chains


The BAT is back, flying on Wings of Chains! This is how the info sheet that came along with this release starts. I couldn’t help wonder from what, since I hadn’t heard of BAT before. Apparently they have released a demo a couple of years ago that showed great potential and that was sold out in a heartbeat. This combined with the release of a single and a large amount of gigs throughout the US built them a solid reputation makes their debut album highly anticipated. However, as little as I have heard form BAT itself, when I read the line-up it was immediately clear with what I was dealing with here. BAT only has three members: Ryan Waste ( Municipal Waste) who is responsible for the vocals and bass lines, Nick Poulos (Volture), responsible for the guitar work and Felix Griffin (Ex-D.R.I.) on drums. These three, no surprise here, play old school crossover/speed metal hugely influenced by, again no surprise here, eighties crossover/speed metal bands like D.R.I., Sacred Reich, Flotsam and Jetsam and the likes, where there’s some Motörhead to be found as well (Rule of the beast!). In fact, judging by the sound of ‘Wings of chains’, if I was told this was an eighties album instead of a new release I wouldn’t have doubted it for second.

Staying true to the unwritten eighties speed metal rule to make loads of songs in as little time as possible, the guys burn twelve songs in just over 29 minutes. The longest song on the entire album by far is the song ‘Bat’, that spans a whopping 3:40 minutes. But setting the whit aside, ‘Wings…’ is an album to remember, taking you right back to those memorable eighties when speed metal had reached the peak of its glory. I’m loving every second of it. I might be a bit biased due to the fact this is pretty much a trip down memory lane for me, there’s no denying that BAT’s music is as contagious as the flu, it catches you faster than lightning. It’s impossible to stay put when you give this a spin, even when you’re all alone you’d be challenged not to start a circle pit right away. Having said this ’Wings…’ is in no way a cheesy, old-fashioned album for grey rockers from days gone by, on the contrary, I think BAT proves old school speed metal is very much alive and present-day.

Even though the intro throws you off track for a bit, sounding more like an appropriate intro for a black metal band with its haunting atmosphere than an intro to a speed metal album, it won’t take you long to get back on the right track when you play ‘Wings…’. The second ‘Bloodhounds’ truly starts the guys hit the gas, never to slow down until the dying tones from closing track ‘Bat’ fade out. Ryan not only plays his bass impressively fast and impeccable, try ‘Ritual fool’ for example, his vocal performance at least equals that. He has a pleasantly hoarse voice, which perfectly suits BAT’s raw, energetic music. It’s apparent he’s not a rookie, judging by the excellent control he has over his voice. The same can be said from Nick, whose ongoing high speed torture of snares is both very well timed as well as raw. Some of his solos are true gems, often being genially short. Listen to his ten-second debauchery in ‘The master of disguise’ for a great example. And then there’s Felix, who relentlessly pounds his drums like there’s no tomorrow. Speed, precision, rhythm breaking, he can do it all, sometimes even all in a single song (‘You die’).

Needless to say I think BAT nailed it with their debut full-length ‘Wings…’, although the term full-length might not be the best term when you look at its playing time that only spans 29 minutes. On the bright side, as far as I’m concerned that is the only minus of this release. I wouldn’t have minded it at all when they had doubled its playing time. ‘Wings…’ is filled with ripping, high speed songs that refuse to leave your head. You will be playing songs like ‘Master of the skies’ and ‘Condemner’ in your mind over and over again for a very, very long time. Don’t get the wrong idea here, that is in no way a punishment, I can think of a gazillion worse things. BAT simply delivered a delicious metal album that breaths old school, yet sounds timeless and should please the vast majority of metal fans. Great skill in composition, execution as well as production. A no-brainer in my book. Best enjoyed in good company so you can build a pit or a wall of death…

Written by Henric van Essen

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