Bat – Under the Crooked Claw (Nuclear Blast)

Friday, 10th May 2024
Rating: 8.5 / 10

Two-thirds of Municipal Waste participates in another active outfit for Bat – already on the radar screen of this scribe for their last EP Axestasy. With plenty of downtime to work out new songs, the band signs with Nuclear Blast for Under the Crooked Claw – a thirteen track outing that continues the trios penchant for speedy, old school traditional metal that is raw, energetic, and hits the gut like a freight train.

A host of NWOBHM and North American influences collide in a frantic, forceful manner – bassist Ryan Waste enunciating his word spew of horror, thriller, and metal to the bone content with that similar unbridled angst that captures musical interest for a lifetime. Fellow guitarist Nick Poulos lays down catchy rhythms plus electric leads that collect a love of Exciter, Iron Maiden, Motörhead, Raven, and Venom (plus their obscure offshoots) to make tracks like “Rite for Exorcism”, the punk-ish “Warshock” or “Marauders of Doom” instant appealers. Latest recruit for the drums Chris Marshall capably obliterates his kit as well as maintaining that solid groove, back beat main frame elements to keep the song flow dynamic – as he occasionally garners that fleet fill spotlight for “Streetbanger” that makes the next musical passage even more engaging. Additional narrative accents set “Horror Vision” in motion, the mid-tempo gallop-oriented riffs allowing Ryan a chance to elevate his thick low-end parts to Maiden-esque angles, the atmosphere and feel also bringing aspects of early Twisted Sister to mind. Bat also understands that you can’t maintain speed for speed’s sake in every song – “Bastardized Force” a back half outing shifting gears between Jag Panzer-like power parts next to early Neil Turbin/Anthrax twists.

Arthur Rizk capably handles the band in fine form on the recording/ production front – sculpting the sound in such a way that you would think Under the Crooked Claw is closer to 1984 than 2024 when it comes to appearance, philosophy, or style. Grand times for this back-to-basics movement, and Bat belongs in the conversation with acts like Haunt, Night Demon, and Vulture as current motivators to keep this type of music relevant today.

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