Friday, 27 July 2012

Mutilation Rites - Empyrean

01. A Season of Grey Rain
02. Realms of Dementia
03. Ancient Bloodoath
04. Fogwarning
05. Dead Years
06. Broken Axis

Mutilation Rites is a band from NYC.  They are kind of a cross-over band, blending Black Metal with Thrash, Crust Punk, and Doom.  They have been together since 2009 and already gone through numerous lineup changes.  Finally, this year, they released their debut LP, "Empyrean". I picked up their new album at Profusion Records in Montreal while on vacation and was intrigued, yet slightly disappointed.  This band shows great potential, but there are several issues, which I will discuss.

There are a lot of interesting things going on here.  The blending of Crust Punk and Black Metal always works well, IMO, and MR does a decent job of this.  They are always throwing in other influences as well, such as some very DSBM* passages and some really doomy riffs occasionally.  They even throw in some Stoner Metal sounding stuff from time to time, with a really Early Mastodon/High on Fire type feel.

The drummer here is obviously fairly technically skilled, switching between different speeds of blast beats, double bass, punk beats, fills, and slow doomy smashing.  There was only one time on the album I really got the feeling that the drummer kind of lost his finesse, and was actually kind of amazed they left it on the album, but I guess it lends to the overall "raw" feeling of the production (albeit more Crusty "raw" than BM "raw").

There are some really great riffs on the album, and the guitars in general sound good.  Songs such as "Fogwarning" are packed with awesome riffs and really get you paying attention.  Even some songs that aren't really riffy are enjoyable due to the creation of atmosphere through the guitar, such as "Dead Years" and the depressive atmosphere it creates.

There are some serious issues with the album however, that really keep me from loving it.  Starting with the vocals.  Now the vocals aren't all bad, in some of the Crust sections they seem to work perfectly, but in the majority of the music the vocals feel hollow and flat.  If I were to draw a comparison I would compare them to Varg Vikernes' vocals off of the self-titled Burzum album, but with the raw power and body scooped out of the center, leaving only the raspy, hollow shell.  They aren't horrible but they're not very good either.  I caught myself wishing the vocals weren't even there at some points, so I could  better enjoy the guitar work, and THAT is a big issue in my opinion.

Another serious issue is the composition.  I love variety, and I love blending of styles, but it has to be done consistently and smoothly.  The way the styles are blended, especially in the "A Season of Grey Rain" and "Realms of Dementia", leaves the album feeling non-cohesive and clunky.  It's like a jar of chunky peanut butter, but the chunks of peanuts have been replaced with chunks of raw onion, it's unexpected and it just doesn't work, leaving a bad taste in your mouth.  You can tell that the band has great ideas, and great potential to do something very interesting, but just doesn't know how to put it all together yet.  Even the best songs on the album suffer from these issues albeit a bit less.  I feel like these sections weren't planned well but the band just got lucky in a few spots.

The other issue here is the length of the album - it's too short.  If I'm paying $20 for an album and it only has 6 songs and slightly over 30 minutes of music I feel ripped off.  It feels more like a long EP than a full length album.

In conclusion this is an album that shows potential for a new band.  They have good ideas and obviously have a lot of influences and interesting concepts to bring to the table, they just have to figure out how to put them together in a more coherent way.  Their technical skill is fairly good, but there are a few serious offenses that need to be corrected as well.  In my opinion this band was not really ready to release a full length album, they needed to put more time into forming a solid concept of a sound before just hitting record and selling the results.  Given time however, I believe Mutilation Rites can become a wonderful band with some really interesting music.

65% - Potential shown but needs improvement

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