In contrast to the last time I had an outing with Batavia, that being of their remix album “Batavia and Their Friends”, their brand new full length piece “Mythos” takes on a much darker and grim tone. The cover art alone is enough to bring me into a ominous gothic world, or at least a vampiric one, as the woman on the cover art has a long flowy dress that transforms into bats and outlines of skulls. She also has a mysterious circle behind her, centered around her head. And, if horror movies have taught me anything, that means I need to not piss her off. I digress, however. “Mythos” is filled to the brim with music and tones for everyone’s inner goth, meditating on the likes of noise rock, post-punk, industrial, and so much more. What’s even more important about their diverse range of influences, however, is that Batavia pulls it all together oh so well. “Mythos”, then, is an eleven track album filled with heartfelt music that can be equally as glum on a dancefloor as it will be fun to bump to in a car.
‘Bricks’ begins “Mythos” as the introductory cinematic track. The first minute of it is filled with the dings of a xylophone and dark ambiance. It reflects the cover art quite well thematically, and is slowly brought into a bright light through strange synthesizers and a slight rumbly beat. As much as I enjoy this intro track, Batavia will have to forgive me if I skipped it on my third playthrough and onward. The main reason being is that, the song that it leads directly into ‘Azafrán’, is a fucking masterpiece that I could never wait to dive right back into.
The post-punk and goth influences as talked about above immediately come out; upbeat percussive kicks give the song a dance vibe while the goth rock guitars in the background give it a somber sound. I also have to commend the synth work on the track; though they are used mostly as garnish, each electronic twang that passes into my ears gives me goosebumps. The vocals on the song are absolutely astonishing; the flow Terri Cripps has with the beat of the song is something that most musicians struggle with even after years of practice. This sounds completely natural to her.
As cars passes on a highway lit only by moonlight and a stray lamp post, as footsteps crunch on the brush that’s to the side of the highway, does ‘The Walking Song’ begin. Thematically appropriate once more, noise rock elements without the distaste of overbearing screeches and an almost southern, bayou-like gothic vibe made me melt in my seat. The following song, ‘Mercy’s Burning Heart’, takes the basslines of an EBM song and mixes it with a witch’s tale. Howling vocals and pulsing beats make me want to dance under a full moon when this plays.
Neo-classical instrumentation a la piano and organ pipes prove a powerful intro for ‘Her Vacant Chair’, which follows suit. It’s an almost desperate track with whispered vocals, as if a plea for help is being made in the track. A slower track for sure, but it’s one that gives a wonderful break in between the rest of the album. The next track is a stranger one; ‘UVB-6’ is an industrial rock slammer whose instrumentation is quite grand. While it may seem out place upon first listen, there’s nonetheless horror-sounding electronic influences on the track that gives it a similar tone to “Mythos”. My major complaint about the track, however, is that the vocals are completely buried underneath the beats on the track. They are hard to hear under the mix and needed to pop a lot more than what was on display here.
Following up the previous track, ‘Anthemoessa’ seems to be influenced by electro-industrial beats and even a little bit of disco. Guitar riffs enjoy their stay in glitched formation as do wonderful bits of synthetic mastery. ‘Bell Witch’ is going to appeal to those who enjoy doom metal as much as they do industrial thanks to the deep pitched guitars and layered riffs that make themselves home on the track.
“Mythos” is finished out by three different mixes of ‘Mercy’s Burning Heart’, ‘Her Vacant Chair’, and ‘Anthemoessa’. ‘Mercy’s Burning Heart (Brahm’s Manor Mix)’ gives it an 8bit crush and a synthpop vibe; ‘Her Vacant Chair (Pearl Mix)’ allows for a more upbeat version of the original song with post-punk beats and twangs; ‘Anthemoessa (Skynet Mix)’ gives it a bit of a darksynth kick. While I enjoyed these mixes, I much rather enjoyed the original versions and found myself leaning towards the first half of the album more than not.
Batavia’s “Mythos” is, quite simply, a stellar album. I have found myself repeatedly coming back to this album not out a need to do my job, but as a desire to listen to the likes of ‘Azafrán’, ‘The Walking Song’, and ‘Anthemoessa’. There is a vast range of genre exploration on “Mythos” as well that is never unchecked; I can always tell these songs are from the band thanks to Terri Cripps’ signature voice. Sure, there are a few songs on “Mythos” that I find myself enjoying less than others. However, that does not mean they’re bad; in fact, the all the songs on “Mythos” are quite good. For all those reasons, I award “Mythos” with a very favorable eight-and-a-half out of ten.
This review was commissioned through our Ko-fi page.