Saturday, October 13, 2012

Music Review: Mütiilation- "Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul" LP

Keeping with the spirit of this blog's name, I proudly present what I consider to be one of black metal's most important albums. Probably the most well known project from the French LLN community, Mütiilation needs little introduction. This band is the vile child of sole member Meyhnach's twisted mind. While the project is no longer active, it enjoyed a lengthy run of quality output, my favorite of which is this phenomenal album. There have been a few prior releases of this album, but the copy I have here is the 2012 release from Dark Adversary Productions, which Meyhnach himself has officially given his seal of "cursed" approval. The packaging is minimal, mocks "a Colombian wanker's shit label" that apparently did poor business with Meyhnach in 1993 and features no insert or details. I find the bleak, minimal, and incredibly negative packaging to be the most appropriate presentation for an album so hideous and unpleasant. If the artwork and intensity of the band's apparent vision don't drive away the unprepared, putting the record on the turntable will clear a room of black metal wannabes in a heartbeat.

The album opens with the intimidating and wretched "Suffer the Gestalt," which crawls from minimal drumming with eerie groaning into violent vocals and buzzing treble-heavy guitars. The churning misery here is both appalling and fascinating. This is clearly the work of a young artist on what is likely an infinitely slim budget, yet the passion is apparent and ferocious. The guitars drop in and out wherever Meyhnach sees fit, rather than the dense walls of sound being created by his Norwegian peers around the same time. Whereas most black metal of this era was majestic and natural, this was introspective, hateful and raw. The song tapers out much the same way it wanders in. Following it is the barrage of "To the Memory of the Dark Countess." Where "Suffer the Gestalt" is ominous and sparse, this song is thick and driving. An almost punk-inspired drumbeat carries through much of the song and the guitars lean much more towards minor chords and other trademarks that often accompany "depressive" black metal. I'm no scholar, but I'll say this album (which is a compilation of Mütiilation's prior works) likely paved the way for many popular depressive black metal groups that came in later to capitalize on their own misery. Hands down, this is some of the most violent and wonderful black metal I've come across. I first heard it years ago when I was just getting into the genre, and I didn't know what to make of it then. I still have no idea how to fully digest this music, but I know it's totally addictive for me. I can't say enough how thrilling each track is on this album.

While I could continue a track by track list of this album, it should honestly be considered mandatory listening for anybody looking for a thorough understanding of black metal. Historically and musically, this album carries so much weight. It sounds like it was recorded in a filthy basement and it's far from a clean sounding recording, but this is exactly what drew me to black metal in the first place. This isn't safe. This isn't polished. This is dangerous and depressing. While metal to some may be a place to mosh and just have an all around good time, there's also a serious appeal to the tortured sounds of true misery and ugliness. Every single track on this album has memorable and filthy riffs. The vocals are pained and distant. The drums are inconsistent and raw. This is some of the meanest black metal you'll hear, and while you may not enjoy it at first, it will draw you back in. I know I couldn't stand it when I first heard it, but I kept finding small moments from this album lingering in my mind while I was going about my day. To finally own this piece of black metal history is one of my greatest joys. I hope you'll do yourself the favor of obtaining a copy however you're able. I got mine from Fallen Empire's Distro, but I'm sure there are other options out there as well.  If the two tunes I've already posted and my high praise haven't already sold you on this, please listen to my personal favorite song from the album, "Travels to Sadness, Hate, and Depression." If this masterpiece doesn't convince you that you need this album, perhaps you're just not ready for Mütiilation just yet. One day it will call you back and you'll understand its hideous appeal.

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