One of the most anticipated Irish albums out this year is by Richter Collective members BATS – and from the pounding drums on album opener ‘Higgs Boson Particle’, it’s obvious they’re out to impress.
The album title, ‘Red In Tooth & Claw’, is taken from a line in a Lord Tennyson poem, in a characteristically over-the-top move that rather than seeming pretentious fits with the BATS aesthetic. (Note: it was also used by the band Murder by Death for their 2008 album.)
On ‘Red In Tooth & Claw’ there’s far less of an emphasis on the shouted vocals that were on BATS’ debut EP ‘Cruel Sea Scientist’ – so when they do appear, as on ‘Lord Blakeney’s Arm’, they’re far more effective. Nonetheless, the vocals are still intense – if BATS were signed up by a cult to recruit new members, they’d do a damn good job. There’s a menacing edge to them but they’re perfectly controlled even when they reach the final point of abandon.
Interestingly, there’s more of a jerky, angular feel to this album than I had anticipated – perhaps working with producer Kurt Ballou (Converge, Genghis Tron) helped bring out a side of the band that was waiting to evolve. The trademark riffs and punky basslines are still in place, but they’ve taken on a new edge – and the metal influences are very much intact, though less pronounced (as in ‘Andrew Wiles’). There are touches of dance-punk there too, reminiscent of bands like Q and Not U.
I suspect that BATS could do very, very well in the United States – it would be great to see them tour over there in the coming months.
Have a listen to the single ‘Credulous, Credulous’ by downloading it for free (and legally) here. ‘Of Red Tooth & Claw’ is officially released on 31st August – but you can pick up a copy at the official launch in Andrew’s Lane Theatre on Saturday, August 29th. They’ll be supported by fellow riff merchants Adebisi Shank and Jogging on the night, and it all kicks off at 10pm.