Over the span of roughly 11 years Golden Bats has made 18 releases, but until today only one of those (2018’s Residual Dread) was a full-length album, all others taking the shape of demos, splits, and EPs. As of today there is a second album, Scatter Yr Darkness, and as we’ve done many times in the past we’re spreading the word of Golden Bats through a premiere, this time of the entire new full-length.
Some things have changed since the last album. For one thing, the band’s sole songwriter and performer Geordie Stafford moved from Australia to Italy just months before the outbreak of Covid, “a worse career move than most”, as he says. Among other things, it resulted in Golden Bats becoming more of a studio project than a live band, but on the other hand it allowed him “the freedom to forget about how things will translate live and focus on writing whatever feels right”.
And some things about the music have also changed (though change, at least on the margins, has always been a marker of Golden Bats‘ evolution from release to release), but the darkness at the core of the music hasn’t brightened. The words alone are proof of that. The uncomfortably vivid lyrics spread throughout Scatter yr Darkness are littered with nightmarish allusions to blood, fire, and death, and filled with expressions of rage and disgust directed at morally malformed expressions of humanity.
Some other things haven’t changed either. The fuzzy riffs are still head-hooking but tend to proceed like a malignant bulldozer afflicted with gigantism. The vocals still sound like Stafford has figured out how to turn himself inside-out but survive the excruciating experience. He still hasn’t learned how to play drums, but knows how to make the programmed percussion stomp like mastodons and crack like bullwhips. All of which is to say the new music is still heavy and harrowing.
Like the words, the songs are often strikingly menacing and brutally bleak, but they’re not always slow and stomping. “Riding in The Captain’s Skull”, for example, goes on a marauding charge, and benefits from some crazed guest soloing by Souichi Hisatake that gives the song an aspect of psychedelic psychosis, while the frantic drum fills and brazen chords in “Holographic Stench” sound like something hungry tracking you down. (The livid whipcrack-snare-sounds seem more prominent here than before.)
Th feeling of being drugged isn’t limited to the first track. The riffs sometimes feel woozy and even narcotic, though it’s not a happy feeling. “Erbgrind” is a prime example, though the classical guest strings performed in that song by Florence Cappler-Shillington, Michelle Heijneman, and Chelsea Royan elegantly draw out the grief in the music, casting a poignant spell in the midst of an experience that’s emotionally crushing. And if that’s a harmonica wailing in “Bravo Sinkhole” it also has devilish psychoactive properties.
The afore-mentioned “Erbgrind” is perhaps the best demonstration of how much more multi-faceted Scatter Yr Darkness is, compared to Residual Dread, but there are other examples. That comes through in the flute-like opening, the accordion-like accents, and the twisting guitar arpeggios within the lurching behemoth “Breathe Misery” and in the quivering gothic keyboards that surface in “A Savage Död”.
Near the end “Malingering” arises as an apocalyptic immensity, but ethereal keyboards give it a mystical overlay, signaling a point at which the music begins to jump and a ringing extended guitar solo channels a kind of ravishing glory mixed with despair. At the very end, “The Gold Standard of Suffering” brings hungry menace and plentiful hammer blows into play again, and the soloing soars. But when the song eventually slows… and slows more… it drags the mood into hopelessness.
Scatter Yr Darkness is available today as a digital release. The album was recorded in part by Ben Thomson at Via Studios, Brisbane, and in part by Stafford at Mob Studios, Rome. It was mixed by Stafford and mastered by the eminent Jack Control at Enormous Door Mastering (Darkthrone, Poison Idea, Aura Noir, Mammoth Grinder). It is, in Stafford‘s view, “the best representation of Golden Bats so far”.
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