Dublin based BATS have been around since their 2009 debut Red In Tooth And Claw established them as one of the most impressive new acts of the time; three years later and they have been labelled under more genres than one could expect, but predominantly a post-punk, progressive/metal band. The first band signed to The Richter Collective it seems fitting that their latest record be the last release on the soon to be defunct label, closing an era.
The Sleep Of Reason opens with a rhythm more reminiscent of a heartbeat than a drum; ‘Emergent Properties’ is a confident start, showcasing plenty of technology and effects, a delay leading smoothly into the lead single released from the album. ‘Wolfwrangler’ continues with a steady rhythm and shows some real progression from their first record; there are elements of post rock fused with a progressive instrumental, experimentalist ideal. The capacity of the vocalists to interchange between melodic, clean vocals to dark and lurid screams is quite impressive.
‘Stem Cells’ provides even more to move your head to as a post-hardcore element begins to creep through the record; the breakdown is an album highlight and proof of the no-nonsense approach employed by BATS which has given them one of the more unique sounds and certainly one of the most impressive releases under The Richter Collective name.
For those that don’t know, the lyrical motif of BATS’ music is science and space. ‘Astronomy, Astrology’ encapsulates everything that the band aims for with tasty riffs and lyrics pertaining to the size of the universe; “We would do well to accept that we’re dust”. While most punk offers some critique, this seems to go further than just social commentary and takes on intelligence (at least academically) that is devoid in most Irish acts and a welcome distinction from the rest.
‘The Sleep Of Reason Brings Forth Monsters’ borrows its title from socio-political anarchism and a piece from Jean Francisco Goya. Unsurprisingly, there are various elements of the post-punk and metal movement; an interesting syllabic pattern follows this track out and into ‘Heat Death’, one of the best tracks on the record. The songs vocals drip of a young Dave Mustaine’s raspy, spoken vocals while the instrumentation, for all intents and purposes is a musical air-raid; notes slide down frets to land in our ears like bombs from on high while the alternative picking of the bass notes replicate the blades of a chopper. ‘Luminiferous Aether’ raises the tempo and mood with light airs of harmonics and bouncy chord progressions peppered with bright cymbal work and similar lead guitar tones.
Certain tracks serve each member of the band differently. In its entirety, the album is a step up from Red In Tooth And Claw but individually, each track highlights the strengths of each member and the distance they have come in three years. ‘Creatures Collecting’ has a remarkable performance from drummer, Noel; while ‘Thomas Midgley Jr’ allows the trio of guitars to experiment and work through all phases of the fret board.
BATS proclaim that “they must continue their quest of promoting science and reason while combating superstition and pseudoscience with blastable riffage and erudite hookage”; an odd juxtaposition and yet it works remarkably well. Named after one of natures most refined animals, the title seems apt for a band with such talent and intelligence to dissect.