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Batillus, New York City's self-appointed doyens of blackened doom, went and found themselves a vocalist before crawling out of the sewer of self-financed mini-releases with this, their first full-length album, pushing the limits of slothful musical extremity before them as they advanced, like a snowplow from hell. But don't panic! Beyond securing this so-called frontman to round out its still instrumentally driven aesthetic, the quartet (gluttons for punishment to a man) made no further "concessions" to the mainstream (snort!) with this latest selection of droning monoliths. And yet, surprisingly, the wanton, suffocating crude oil savagery of creeping epics like "...And the World Is as Night to Them" and "The Division" frequently recede in the face of melodies as fluid-smooth as all-engulfing tar pits, lapping ever so gently (though hungrily) at this dying mammoth's eternal bones. Nightmarish electronic soundscapes also color the album's multiple shades of black, blacker, and blackest (see the seismic and cryptic "Mautaam" in particular), and even the most energetic zombie stagger attained by "Deadweight" and the outright sprint of "Uncreator" won't come anywhere near to raising listeners' spirits. But then, Batillus and their surely selective willing audience are obviously preoccupied with only one set of emotions, and none of them are happy; into the Furnace, then -- prepare to suffer.

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