BAT - Wings of Chains - (7.5/10)
Published on July 5, 2016
With some bands certain things can already be deducted before hearing a single note. American Bat (who very surprisingly are the only band of the name listed in the Metal Archives!) are one of them, with the bony logo, the titles, the trio set up, the fact that they manage to squeeze 12 songs into just over 29 minutes, all of this screams old metal, like Motorhead, Venom, Tank etc. and this is *exactly* what Bat and their debut album Wings of Chains are all about.
Comprising of Municipal Waste’s Ryan Waste and Nick Poulos as well as former D.R.I. drummer Felix Griffin, Bat don’t have any pretense about sophistication, technicality, demand or contemporariness, they are basically a walking anachronism, but…that is exactly what they set out to be and they are doing a bang on job with it. This is proto heavy/speed metal that takes its cues from the Motorheads, the Venoms, the Tanks, the punk spirit of the early Eighties and channels them into a short and concise drive-by shooting of an album that refuses to take any prisoners to weigh it down.
From the opening chords of “Bloodhounds” on all of the above becomes crystal clear and the unadulterated metal spirit jumps out of the speakers and pins you down, banging your head on the floor (or wall) until the last sound has faded away. And that is the case song after song, which have the charm of a gang of gap-toothed hooligans ransacking everything in their path, but while “Code Rude”, “Master of the Skies” or “Condemner” have the distinction of a wrecking ball, there is more to Bat than just all out grime and filth with Nick Poulos bringing an unexpected and unusual inventiveness to the fray, mixing frenetic speed picking with some nice traditional metal harmonies and crazy solos to keep things interesting. The title track is the probably best example with its heavy list towards the old NWobHM and also the good old speed metal riffery of “Rule of the Beast” that shows more guitar prowess than most of the bands of this ilk will produce.
Waste’s monotonous bellow fits the unruly character of the songs, which don’t have any kind of digital feel to them, but embrace the analog age wholeheartedly. Instead it invokes that primal feeling of the engineer hitting the record button when they started and hitting stop when they were done wreaking havoc to inspect how much of the studio was left at that time. And for this kind of music, it’s the perfect way to do it, because as raw as it is, one can hear each instrument quite distinctly, making one wonder why some bands spend thousands of dollars to finetune and doctor around with and still not hear everything…
Wings of Chains is definitely not an album to sit down with and carefully analyze structures and execution and what not, it is one to put in, hit play, go nuts and then go home again. Like one well-placed hit to the head with a baseball bat. There are no bad songs to be found, maybe because before an idea could be properly digested for feasibility, the song is done and the next one already is working on assaulting the eardrums, making this work as one compact unit instead of just 12 songs that happen to sit on the same CD.
Whoever keeps claiming that metal is dead or dying, bands like Bat and labels such as Hells Headbangers are living proof that their claims are without any validation, whenever some of the old greats abdicates, there will always be new bands picking up the pace and labels that will release their albums. Wings of Chains is one of them. Metal…is…not…dead.