Batoche - Terra Incognita
Record Label: None
Release Date: June 2007
Batoche, a band native to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, self released and produced Terra Incognita, and they very kindly agreed to give it away for free to anyone who would listen. The band’s sound can best be described as a mix of Motorhead-esque speed metal, thrashcore, and moody and atmospheric metal somewhat similar to Isis. However, this style is delivered in a wholly unconvincing package, and the record is pummeling and painful rather than engrossing and enjoyable.
In truth there are moments on the album, such as stretches during the eight minute marathon “The Power of Nightmares,” that are actually quite good and do the band and its stylistic influences some justice. But the record’s biggest problem is that at 55 minutes long, Terra Incognita is an unmercifully difficult album to sit through all the way. Although occasionally one's attention is actually brought back when something interesting happens, these moments are few and far between, and what lies between is a wall of incessant noise that feels crushing rather than exhilarating. When the band does attempt to come across as thoughtful and melodic, like on the instrumental “Calcaire Falls,” the music meanders, stalls, and ultimately acts to the album’s detriment. Almost none of the songs stick out in any memorable way, and the few standouts that do emerge, such as the genuinely strong title track, would definitely be the weaker moments on an album by a justifiably more successful band. The band does attempt to save themselves with occasionally inspired examples of lyricism, mostly political and rage fueled, but the songwriting is fully inept and lacking in structure, and the vocals, which alternate between Ian MacKaye styled growls, doom-metal barking, and pained hardcore screams, are excruciating.
It’s ironic that although being a DIYer is usually a praiseworthy quality, here it is undeniable that Batoche needed a quality producer during recording to tell them to cut 20 minutes off the album, tighten the seams, and let the songs earn some breathing space. As it stands, Terra Incognita tries to deliver an intense and thought provoking experience, but instead leaves very little impact due to the band’s attempts to stretch that intensity over a near hour-long time span. Terra Incognita is a perfect example of intense and loud music done horribly wrong; if you want to hear it done right, listen to Underoath or Isis, and leave Batoche’s music where it belongs - in obscurity.