Battalions – “Pure Humber Sludge” (APF Records)
Battle Helm Rating
If you’re a fan of Eyehategod, Buzzov’en and especially Iron Monkey, then Battalions bring it on just as intensely! Hailing from the coastal city of Hull, they’ve already chalked up plenty of road dust playing with Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Exhorder, Dopethrone, Conan, Church Of Misery, Sworn Enemy, Armed For Apocalypse, Ohhms, Slabdragger, Samothrace and Vinnum Sabbathi. In 2017 they were on the Hobgoblin Stage at Bloodstock Open Air Festival, and headlined the Motörhead Roadcrew Stage at the 30,000-capacity Humber Street Sesh. Having issued their 3rd album “Forever Marching Backwards” in 2018, “Pure Humber Sludge” is a reissue of their long-out-of-print albums “Nothing To Lose” (2016) and “Moonburn” (2017) totalling 15 tracks! Freshly remastered by Chris Fielding (Conan) to give them extra grunt, the album is certainly shit heavy as you might expect, complete with lead vocalist Phil Wilkinson (ex-Guthrum (live), ex-Introrectalgestation) doing Iron Monkey’s own Johnny Morrow fine justice in the screaming department. While not being as nihilistic and self-destructive as their inspirations, what is appealing about Battalions is that they have taken this extreme style of down tuned noise, gargantuan grooves and frenzied throat insanity and just made it a tad more controlled, listenable and much to the horror of the many, actually enjoyable. But for those of you who like to wipe your arse with sandpaper, the likes of ‘Hoods Up, Knives Out’ with its massive, cascading Southern grooves topped off by wailing tinges accompanied by Wilkinson’s larynx shredding will have you headbanging for the hills, while ‘Shitstorm Troopers’ with its dirty droning guitars and huge rhythm immediately brought back memories of early Celtic Frost, although once again, Peter Cross’s melodic touches added an air of real finesse to the grinding apocalyptic death. With Matt Walker (ex-Pitiful Reign) threatening to smash the shit out’ve his kit on ‘Skinjob’, the mix of droning riffs and down tuned madness formed the perfect canvass upon which Wilkinson’s banshee screeching added more paralysis to the soul until the song sped up to another dirty backwoods throwdown a la Scissorfight. Ending this excellent compilation (also featuring an 8-page booklet of rare photos) with ‘Another Meaning For Death’, the colossal, down tuned riffs just boomed out brilliantly as they bathed you in pure amp power, slowly soaking up the reverb as Wilkinson added his corrosive touch to Cross’s melodies, while Walker and bassist Matt Dennett (ex-Mastiff) continued to waylay, whether in first gear or hitting the nitrous. Remember boys and girls, there’s heavy, and then there’s shit heavy as in the barrage that Battalions make!