Virginia’s Bat have been brewing an underground following alongside their now 6-year long career. While 2016’s Wings of Chains amassed some stir within the underground, the trio have yet to cause a storm with any release. Let’s see what’s in store for fans with Axestasy.
Bat are most notable for being one of the many side projects tied to the untouchable Municipal Waste. Unfortunately, this association plagues the band for being their greatest pull-factor.
Bat seem to straddle the sonic line somewhere along the gritty speed metal spectrum. They’re not as punchy and fun as something like a Midnight, yet not as technical and smooth as something to the likes of Scotland’s Hellripper. Now, I’m well aware that you can’t just compare specific projects to a subgenre’s current greats, but it is still a noteworthy inclusion. The two aforementioned groups, as well as the one in question, have all been around roughly the same amount of time, so the comparison is warranted in my eyes, especially since Midnight has seen critical acclaim and Hellripper is certainly on the right path. Read a review of Hellripper’s Black Arts & Alchemy here.
Regardless, let’s take a look at Axestasy. “Wild Fever” opens the EP with the party-hard, bar-brawlin’ attitude that Bat is known for. This is the best track on the release in my opinion, with the more intricate chorus and subsequent main riff payoff the listener gets when the boys get back to their instruments to jam.
The title track is also another highlight, with it’s more intricate nature. The song also flows really nicely with the general way that the riffs and drumming work together in separate unison.
I’ve never been a fan of the project’s vocals. They sound hokey, mostly slurred, and above all, generally uninteresting. These two adjectives are of course negative in this context, but they can certainly be used as positives in certain instances, as vocals like those on Vanik’s newest record follow similar suit but manage to fit within the ‘80s Halloween vibe that group is going for.
The production is also unimpressive. There are some great bass breaks here, primarily the ones on “Wild Fever” and “Ritual Fool,” but they don’t really have that delicious punch that bass breaks usually carry, all due to the mediocre production blanketing the release. Don’t get me wrong, the production is fine, it just doesn’t highlight any of the music’s key features. The bluesy solos don’t stand out nearly enough and the bass doesn’t sound like it’s about to pop out of my speaker.
I see what Bat was going for here. With tracks like “ICE” with its particularly headbangable main riff, chugging atmosphere, and fist-pumping chorus all working towards a great live tune, as well as the sing-able lyrics found throughout, everything points to Bat being a great live band. These songs were clearly all fabricated for the stage, they just fall flat within the larger realm of music competing for my ears. I’m sure they are a great live band, but that can’t be all you’re going for.
I’ve never been a fan of Bat and Axestasy hasn’t changed my opinion. There’s no major thing bringing the EP down, it’s more-so a lot of little things drawing towards a conclusion of mediocrity. I don’t think this is worth anyone’s time. There are a lot of excellent speed/black/thrash bands out there doing some pretty innovative things with the genre, and unfortunately, Bat isn’t one of them.