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Rites through the Twilight of Hell (1992)
 

When I discovered Mütiilation, they only had only released two full-length albums, unless you count the Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul compilation that introduced me to this black cult. I quickly sought out any and all of the band's works, including this interesting demo from 1992. Rites through the Twilight of Hell almost seems like a full album, upon first glance. It has an intro and several average-length songs, and the whole thing clocks in around half an hour. However, actually listening to the tape shows that it is not only a mere demo, but an extremely rough one, at that.

The production gives a bad name to the word necro. This is some of the lowest-quality stuff that I can listen to and still tolerate. To put it into perspective, it is one step above Mayhem's Pure Fucking Armageddon. The guitars actually possess a nice, filthy tone, which is one of the positive points for the recording. However, the vocals are almost completely buried, adding only a small fraction of what they should to the overall atmosphere of the demo. The drums are also quite low, though this is probably for the better. In a sense, the whole recording comes off as just a rough tape of guitar riffs with vocals and drums added for effect.

For some time, I wondered why Meyhna'ch failed to re-record most of these songs, since it strikes one as being a waste. However, a closer listen reveals that the songwriting just is not very strong, and several of the tracks sound quite similar. There are a few decent ideas, here and there, but there is a complete lack of coherence within the material itself. The fact that a song like "Black Wind of War" was later salvaged (for the Hail Satanas We are the Black Legions E.P.) shows just how much the band developed over time. A few of the riffs appear later on, in altered form, but the majority was simply too unstructured to be worked with.

One of the main problems with the vocals, other than being buried so deep, is that there is hardly any logic to the vocal patterns and phrasing; little thought seems to have been given to the placement, and it all gives the impression of something that was improvised on the spot, in some cases. The guitar playing is very sloppy as well, with some really nice ideas being destroyed due to poor execution. In particular, this applies to a decent melody that emerges in the latter half of "Born in Malediction", along with the subsequent solo. It possesses a nice raw feeling, but one gets the sense that it could have been so much more. The drumming is quite awful too, though serving its purpose, reminding one of a kid playing drums on some boxes or maybe pots and pans. It actually works to their benefit that the percussion is not easily heard.

As for the songwriting, it is all very simplistic and primitive. An aura of doom pervades much of the music, here. There are a lot of mid-paced, down-picked riffs that carry a mournful feeling and convey some sense of misery and loss. The dark atmosphere of the music is only a shadow of what could have been (as with most aspects of this recording), but the potential is evident. The arrangement and structuring all comes off as haphazard and disjointed. Though it is a nice touch, the organ section of "Under the Fullmoon" really should have been worked in a more natural way. Rather than each song possessing its own identity, several of the riffs sound alike, on the first listen, which makes it difficult to get well-acquainted with the material. The music seems to take equal influence from 80's bands as well as the Black Metal scene that was taking shape to the north. Despite the rough nature of this recording, one can tell that Mütiilation had a vision that they were aspiring to. It was only a matter of time before they developed the talent to pull it off.

Rites through the Twilight of Hell is, probably, only of interest to die-hard fans and is not a good starting place for anyone that is new to the band. It is a collection of rough ideas that would slowly coalesce to form a unique entity that would span the next decade and a half. If you want to see the primitive beginnings of Mütiilation, this is it.
 
(17 Sept. 2011)

 
 

Ceremony of Black Cult is the second demo from the French Black Metal band Mütiilation. Released in early 1993 (about a year after their first demo, Rites through the Twilight of Hell) this recording shows a decent amount of development and represents one more step toward becoming one of the most revered groups affiliated with the LLN.

Though the intro does not quite have the desired impact, the first song relieves all doubts about whether or not the band had progressed in terms of songwriting and ability. "Desecrate Jesus' Name" features the same type of riffing that Mütiilation utilized so frequently on the first demo, but the playing is far more competent and the riffs manage to flow much better. The transitions are still largely non-existent, but the execution shows vast improvement in such a relatively short amount of time. There is a lot more variation in guitar melodies and percussion, and the vocals are a little more audible as well. Meyhna'ch's morbid wailing was already taking shape by this point, as well as the band's tendency to create a sombre atmosphere.

"As the Night Falls" begins with a mid-paced riff that shows some doom influence, before the pace picks up a slight bit. One can easily notice that the vocal patterns were more thought-out and that the songwriting, in general, was given more attention. Rather than a random collection of riffs, the songs here sound more coherent. Despite this, it is difficult to believe that this same band would record the material for Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul later in the same year, as those compositions sound more developed, though still in the same primitive style.

The next song is "Sorcerer's Land", which starts out with a rather pointless section with only drums and vocals (accompanied by the subtle rumbling of a bass guitar). After this intro, there is an awkward pause and then a new riff simply begins in progress, almost, with the vocals seeming kind of chaotic. A slower doom riff comes along to add some depth to the track, though the band fails to capitalize on this effect. This song would later be merged with the Bathory song "Rite of Darkness", which appeared on the reissue of Vampires of Black Imperial Blood.

The demo concludes with another version of "Under the Fullmoon", which features an altered intro. It sounds pleasant enough, but does not suit the vibe of the song and is actually less effective than the previous acoustic intro. This recording replaces the atmospheric funeral organ with several seconds of feedback and odd vocal effects. Again, another change that actually works against the feeling of the original.

Ceremony of Black Cult is not essential, but is certainly worth a listen for all fans of Mütiilation's early work. Production-wise, it sounds about as rough and ugly as the previous demo, so there are no real surprises. It is a step up in other areas, though the improvements are accompanied by glaring faults. The one thing that could have saved this recording the most would have been a better vocal performance. Had Meyhna'ch been imbued with the dark essence that possessed him during the Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul session, then the entire impression of this demo would have been far different. Nevertheless, it is still superior in many ways to the band's later output, which felt far too manufactured. Regardless of any defects, this recording sounds organic and real. If you like raw and under-produced Black Metal, give it a listen.
 
(18 Sept. 2011)

 
 

After releasing a couple of poorly-produced demos, Mütiilation returned in 1994 with their first 7" E.P. Independently released, Hail Satanas We Are the Black Legions featured the best sound that the band had achieved to that point, or possibly ever. Not only was the production much clearer than before, but it seemed that the band members had become more confident in their abilities and the playing was much more competent as well, though retaining the raw feeling from before.

Shortly after discovering Mütiilation, through the Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul release, I managed to get my hands on all of the previous material as well. Luckily, I had a connection that enabled me to obtain original copies of the cassette demos and the 7" in question. Outside of the obvious impression that songs like "Suffer the Gestalt" had on me, the material presented on this E.P. quickly grabbed my attention.

"Desecrate Jesus Name" begins with a memorable riff that is soon accompanied by drums and a tormented scream. Immediately, one recording flaw is apparent as the drums are a bit too high in the mix. However, this is not too difficult to ignore. The riffs are mostly thrash-inspired, yet still possessing a rather sombre feeling. The vocals add to this, as well. One can also detect some influence from Bathory and Burzum, though it is not incredibly overpowering.

The next song is "Remembrance of My Past Battles and Times" which contains a mixture of the sorrowful thrash riffs, as well as the typical tremolo-picked melodies that defined much of the Second Wave of Black Metal. This is raw and primitive, yet creates more of a depressing atmosphere than anything truly evil or hellish.

"Black Wind of War" may be one of the most recognizable tunes ever created by this band. The song begins with another mid-paced thrash riff, with vocals of pure howling misery. Meyhna'ch was certainly losing what little sanity he possessed, by this point. As the song progresses, tremolo riffs and blasting drums are introduced, but this is definitely not where the song shines. The slower parts are where the band is most able to create the atmosphere of despair and hopelessness that characterized so many of their works, and this is evident here. As the E.P. reaches its conclusion, nothing is left but a woeful melody being carried on the winds of desolation.

Mütiilation's career can be split into two parts, with the first consisting of the material up through Remains..., This is the one that really defines the band for me, and Hail Satanas We Are the Black Legions is an integral part of this era, and is a strong representation of what they were trying to achieve. While most newer fans are more aware of the later output, you should seek out the early stuff to get a better idea of what this band was all about.
 
(7 Sept 2011)

 
 

Satanist Styrken is the third Mütiilation demo, released in early 1994. The influence of the Norwegian Black Metal scene had grown so strong that the title of the demo, as well as one of the song titles, is in Norwegian. Strangely, the material is a step below the tracks from Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul, which was supposedly recorded during the previous year. Despite the drop in quality, the sound is closer to that recording than to the demos that preceded it, and the overall atmosphere is much more grim as well.

The first track is "Skoger av onde drom", which begins with a doom-inspired riff that carries a miserable feeling. This is followed by a faster riff that gives off a trance-like feeling, and seems to have some noticeable Darkthrone influence. The sound is muddy and several of the elements end up blending together during the fast-paced sections. The production is not much better than the early demos, but the musicianship certainly shows signs of improvement. The songs flow much more nicely, and there are less abrupt stops. Still, there are parts that seem awkward, though that may just be part of the band's charm. This song later appeared on the Vampires of Black Imperial Blood reissue, and the result is ten times better.

"My Last Night Among Those Times" follows this, and is very reminiscent of the material from their aborted 1993 full-length. The vocals are hellish and tormented, while the muddy riffs clog up the drumming like coagulated blood. Despite the low sound quality, the riffs maintain a dismal feeling and the tortured howls of Meyhna'ch suit the song. One can detect the old school Black Metal influence here, likely from early Bathory or even a bit of Hellhammer. It ends with a sorrowful acoustic section that adds a bit of depth to the track.

The next song is "Eternal Empire of Majesty Death", and is the only one from this demo to make it to the original version of the band's first album. The pace is a bit slower than what was later recorded, and the atmosphere is very lifeless and melancholic. The sounds give rise to many nightmarish visions, plaguing the mind of the listener and giving a strong push toward an untimely demise. The utter darkness that spawns from this song engulfs you in pure hopelessness and sorrow. While it is much clearer on the L.P. version, the dreary vibes are somewhat lost when compared to this one.

The demo wraps up with "Infernal Holocaust in the Mourning Dawn". This one utilizes a faster pace and maintains the raw and primitive feeling. The vocals are even more indecipherable, seeming kind of gargled in a strange way. The mid-paced riffs stand out and help to add a more subtle measure of gloom to the proceedings. Things really seem to fall apart near the end of the song, which represents a descent into the very depths of hell. The final notes are as ominous as a funeral bell, signaling the untold suffering that shall soon befall you.

Satanist Styrken is raw and mournful Black Metal and is a must-have for any Mütiilation fan. This demo captures their sound very well and gives a good representation of the band in their most creative period. Their sound had been well-defined by this point as they had fully established their identity and artistic direction.
 
(18 Sept. 2011)

 
 

Black Imperial Blood (Travel) is the fourth Mütiilation demo, and the final one before their first full-length album. Released in the autumn of 1994, this represented the final stage of development for much of this material. All but two of the songs on this cassette ended up on the L.P. and even those that did not make the cut (for whatever ridiculous reason) were on later reissues.

The production is very similar to Vampires of Black Imperial Blood, being rather grim and lo-fi. It certainly suits the music, and the low quality does not have an overly negative impact on the ability of the songs to conjure up particular moods. In fact, the under-produced sound compliments the raw and primitive style of music. The vocals are a little high in the mix, a problem that would remain even for the album that followed, but it does not really detract from the atmosphere. As for the guitars and drums, they seem to be just right, so there are no complaints there. The guitars have kind of a thin sound, not exactly in a good way, but it is only a minor issue.

Regarding the music, it is not very dissimilar from the versions that appear on the full-length. While the crude Burzum and Darkthrone influences remain, Mütiilation had firmly established their own identity by this point and the songwriting lacked the awkwardness that often plagued things before. The pace is a little slower, in most cases, and the songs are slightly longer as a result. This does not drastically alter the atmosphere, but adds to the dreary nature of the material. In the case of "Under Ardailles Night" and the title track, it is enough to make the songs much more sombre when compared to the later versions. Odd how a subtle touch can affect the music. The guitar melodies are bleak and melancholic and evoke feelings of pure misery and hopelessness. These sounds are capable of inspiring the loss of blood by candlelight or a solitary journey into the depths of the autumn forest, in search of the perfect tree to hang from.

Black Imperial Blood (Travel) seems to be superior to the Vampires of Black Imperial Blood album. While the material is essentially the same, the slower pace enables the tracks to take on an added sense of morbidity and despair, which makes all the difference in the world for the listener's state of mind. For anyone that is a fan of the first Mütiilation album, seek this out and experience these songs in their proper form.
 
Edit (Jan. 2013): It has come to my attention that my copy of this tape is defective and plays slower than it is supposed to. This is the reason for the more depressive pace and the muddier sound quality noted here. In fact, the recordings on this demo are the very same that were used for the full-length, yet it was my worn-out cassette that deceived me into thinking these were two separate recordings for all of these years.
 
(23 Sept. 2011)

 
 

Mütiilation was the best-known of the French Black Legions, which also included the likes of Vlad Tepes, Belketre and Torgeist. They had spent a few years recording various demos and even an album that sat on the shelf for six years. In 1995, they released their first full-length album, Vampires of Black Imperial Blood, through Drakkar Records. This would also stand as the only L.P. to be released by any of the LLN bands.

The atmosphere is mournful and dark, but not always to the same extent as the songs on Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul. While the sound quality is better, the actual material sometimes, falls a little short in attaining the level of misery that the band sought. One gets the impression that a lot of influence has come from Norwegian bands like Darkthrone and Burzum, yet with something else added. Beyond just emulating their neighbors to the north, Meyhna'ch and company inject the music with a poisonous quality that makes the listener feel somewhat afflicted with the same mental sickness that, clearly, plagues the band members involved.

The songwriting seems to have exceeded the members' capabilities, and one can often get a sense for what could have been. The album is filled with miserable riffs, but the feeling is often interrupted by other guitar passages that do little to uphold the consistency of the song. At least, that is the general impression when listening to the original. Thankfully, the 1999 reissue was remastered and the result is quite remarkable. This was one of the times when an album desperately needed to be fixed. When listening to the later version, it is much easier to get pulled into the grim and depressive soundscape here created by songs like "Black Imperial Blood" and "Transylvania". With the later version, one can better appreciate the contrast between the faster riffs and the more sombre mid-tempo sections. It is during the slower parts that the true misery of the record can be felt, as it takes the listener's mind deeper into an abyss of suffering. This is exemplified by the bleak melodies of songs such as "Eternal Empire of Majesty Death", "Forests of an Evil Dream" and "Travels to Sadness, Hate and Depression" (the latter two only available on the reissue). As well, one cannot ignore the majestic morbidity of the album opener, "Magical Shadows of a Tragic Past". The music is best appreciated in solitude, with only the light of candles to illuminate the room, possibly with a fresh razor nearby.

The production is a step up from the demo tapes, of course, but that isn't saying much. It all kind of falls flat and the original does not do justice to the material presented here. The sound is still very lo-fi and lives up to the necro expectations of such a band. At times, the drumming sounds as if Krissagrazabeth is pounding on a cardboard box. Another session musician handles percussion duties on a couple songs, but it isn't all that noticeable. Meyhna'ch does a competent enough job with the guitars, bass and vocals, though all possess some level of mistakes. The somewhat sloppy guitar playing almost suits the overall sound, so this is not a big deal. Vocally, the performance is in line with the rest of the music, just that certain times one can hear that the mic was too close and caught things that it should not have. In the end, none of this really matters, if one can obtain a copy of the remastered version.

Vampires of Black Imperial Blood is a decent album of grim and mournful Black Metal and would mark the end of Mütiilation's first period. The band would fall silent for some time, finally releasing the 1993 material by the end of the decade and then returning to create music in somewhat of an altered manner. Despite any shortcomings, this album may possess, it is definitely worth getting (just recommended that the aforementioned reissue is the best manner in which to hear this material).
 
(5 Sept. 2011)

 
Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul (1999)
 

Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul is considered to be a compilation album, of sorts, released in 1999. The first five songs were initially intended to be released as Mütiilation's debut album under the title of Evil: The Gestalt of Abomination. They were recorded in 1993 and this debut L.P. was supposed to be released on a Colombian label, Warmaster Records. It is a shame that these plans fell through, as this material really should have been heard during that period. As for the last two songs, they were recorded solo in 1996. The liner notes claim that Meyhna'ch was dead as a result of the pathetic Black Metal scene of the time.

This album was my first exposure to Mütiilation. One summer night, my band mate arrived outside the radio station, in order to drop off a couple CDs that I was borrowing for my show. With a little time to kill, and a decent air conditioner in his car, I accepted the offer to check out a couple bands. While the others were of no interest to me, whatsoever, this one stood out. From the opening moments of "Suffer the Gestalt", I was drawn deeper into this hellish recording.

The album begins with inhuman moaning. Sparse drumming leads into very primitive guitar riffs and screams of torture and suffering. This is agony and pure Hell caught on tape. It lasts but three and a half minutes, yet it seems too epic to be so brief. You are compelled to shred your own flesh and to bleed in the candlelight. The screams almost seem as if they are emanating from within your own ruined soul.

"To the Memory of the Dark Countess" begins with simplistic guitar riffs, speeding up a bit with awkward sounding drums, before settling into a mid-paced and mournful Black Metal riff. The guitars are very droning and the vocals are possessed with madness and torture. Torches light the hidden chambers, in the depths of the crumbling castle. Girls are tormented and killed to be drained of their blood for the dark queen to bathe. With this song, one can feel their terror as they await their grisly demise.
 
The album continues with "Possessed and Immortal". As with the previous song, it mostly consists of mid-paced riffs that convey the blackest and most pure melancholy. Meyhna'ch's hateful and mournful screams emerge from the shadowy depths of his being and perfectly suit the raw sound. The scene is one of a solitary spirit, crushed to the black earth, surrounded by empty bottles and dull razors. The light of the candles illuminates the prison-like walls, casting shadows of a miserable creature slicing away at his own skin, painting the room with his own blood. Life has no meaning. To exist is to suffer.

"Through the Funeral Maelstrom of Evil" is the longest song on the album and begins with a bit of a faster pace, though still a bit plodding. The sort of clumsy drumming fits the raw and primitive nature of the recording. There is a feeling of desperate hopelessness imparted upon the listener, as a result of the utterly dismal guitar melodies and the immensely distressed cries. One could say that the production is pretty terrible, making Transilvanian Hunger sound polished. However, it adds to the overall feel.

"Travels to Sadness, Hate and Depression" begins with an thoroughly miserable riff. It is slow and very suitable to lead one right into the abyss. One can almost feel the dampened earth as the grave lays open and welcoming. The woeful riffs and tortured vocals combine to create such a grim and dreary atmosphere that you begin to feel a heavy weight on your chest. It is not for the weak and certainly not for those accustomed to newer, so-called suicidal Black Metal bands. This is pure agony and hell, in recorded form. The dramatic statements made in the liner notes, in 1999, have no effect on these songs. There is no posturing, here. This is absolute misery and hatred captured for the ages. It reaches into your chest and tears at your heart, squeezing until life expires. The pitch-black despondency of these riffs makes this one of the best songs on here, accentuated by the frenzied nature of the vocal performance.

Tacked on to the end of this classic recording are a couple of tracks recorded solo by Meyhna'ch, in 1996. "The Fear That Freeze" and "Holocaust in the Mourning Dawn (French Version)" don't really fit with the rest of the material and would have been better served if released separately, somehow. The sound is nowhere near as raw and the drum machine is a little distracting as well. The former is very fast and somewhat reminiscent of Norwegian Black Metal. The latter is a re-recording of an older song, not really doing it justice. The version from the Satanist Styrken demo is much better.

Despite the ill-placed bonus material, Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul is absolutely the definitive Mütiilation album and a classic of second-wave Black Metal, in general. More raw than Darkthrone and darker than Burzum, it is really too bad that these songs weren't available for listeners back in 1993. The first five songs are a great example of what this band once was, while the last two songs offer a fair representation of the later albums. If you haven't slashed your veins and bled to death by the time the album has concluded, it would be highly recommended for you to seek out all of the early releases from this band.

(25 Oct. 2008)

 
 

Released in early 2001, Destroy Your Life for Satan was the first offering of new Mütiilation material in several years. Though Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul was released in 1999, the recordings were from 1993 and 1996. During the years of silence, in which Meyhna'ch removed himself from the underground Black Metal scene, much had changed.

The first thing that one might notice, upon listening to this demo, is that it seems far removed from the band's classic material. Gone is the extremely raw and genuine feeling that characterized those old releases. Mütiilation had, sadly, come into the modern, digital age. For this reason alone, I had long avoided these albums and, even when I finally gave them a chance, my reviews were not so favourable. It is true that the production works against the music; however, to disregard these later works based on this would be quite unfortunate.

Of the five songs offered here, only two would remain exclusive to this demo. The re-recorded version of "Transylvania" is like a bridge to the past, and does well to maintain the feeling from the original, even if the sound is not as raw as one might like. The guitars still possess a decent amount of distortion and, on this demo, Meyhna'ch had not yet gone crazy with the vocal effects. The main thing working against this is the lack of a real drummer. However, the guitar melodies are strong enough that they consume your mind and it is there that Meyhna'ch's dark vision unfolds. He always had a talent for writing very morbidly unsettling riffs that capture the true essence of the darkness that rests within us all. Some of the guitar melodies in the title track and "Black Millenium" really connect to the old days, though this is not readily apparent when one is first attempting to digest the differences of the overall sound. His vocals, brilliantly, add to the bleak and hellish atmosphere. This comes through even better during the slower sections, such as the middle of "The Ugliness Inside". He sounds utterly possessed and ruined by the internal darkness that threatens to destroy each of us. His is the voice of a being that is hanging from the edge, somehow clinging to tiny shreds of mortality, tormented and corrupted. The Venom cover is somewhat interesting, and he does a good job in making it even more miserable and hideous, though it does not fully fit in with the rest of the material and may be somewhat of a novelty that wears off after a few listens.

Though the band had returned in a somewhat different form, Destroy Your Life for Satan is definitely worthy of Mütiilation and is another essential part of the band's discography. Though three of these songs appear on subsequent albums, these versions are different (despite what some might think) and are worth listening to. In fact, though they are very much similar, these recordings seem somehow better. Do not pass this up.
 
(13 Dec. 2013)

 
 

For some years, it seemed that Meyhna'ch was dead. This was implied in the liner notes of Remains of a Ruined, Dead Cursed Soul. As it turned out, he was merely on a self-imposed hiatus. Disgusted with the way Black Metal was becoming more trendy and accepted, he saw no other option but to disappear. Yet his anger grew over the course of these years and he then chose to return in an effort to spread darkness and evil and to take Black Metal back for the older cults. This is according to the notes inside the 2001 release, Black Millenium (Grimly Reborn). This album is only the third full-length from Mütiilation, despite the band's lengthy history.
 
My initial impression of this recording was not very favourable. I was disappointed that it didn't sound more like Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul or any of the earlier demo material. Still, I forced myself to give it a chance and to refrain from comparing it to the earlier works. Once I managed this (and got over the lack of a real drummer), I was able to enjoy the album to some degree. However, the fact that I became acquainted with it during a rotten time in my existence means that it is the album that I listen to the least.

"The Eggs of Melancholy" starts out with a brief acoustic section, with some other effects in the background. This sets kind of a dreary tone, though the tempo soon changes to something much faster and more aggressive. Will's trademark thrash style is still present within the Mütiilation sound, mixed in with the more typical tremolo riffing. Vocally, he sounds bloody possessed and insane. This is the true voice of humanity. That may be one of the things that makes this darker than some other albums, as there is a sense of reality that many others lack. The song slows down, a few minutes in, as a funeral bell adds to the morbid atmosphere of this track. Will sounds like a half-decaying ghoul, looking for a grave to sleep in. Everything about this is dripping with death, sickness and plague.

"No one to bless the funeral, the priest was buried one week ago
Fields are changing to mass graves"

"New False Prophet" begins with a strange and eerie feeling. The guitars are very simplistic, as are the layered vocals, yet it all works well to create a very unsettling vibe. A minute or so into the song, the speed picks up to a blistering pace, yet the vocal lines stretch over several repetitions of the tremolo riffs. I've read someone make a simple comparison between this and early Darkthrone, but the similarities are only on the surface, if at all. The feeling conveyed here is morbid in a very sick and demented sense. The stench of death hovers over all, as these dark and melancholic sounds surround you.

The next song is "The Hanged Priest", which begins at full speed, rather than utilizing any kind of intro. This song features more blackened thrash riffs, while being sort of mid-paced throughout. There are several tempo changes, though nothing terribly extreme. Will's vocal insanity is taken to deeper depths as the song progresses. The demonic voices, added in the background, are a nice touch as well.

"Inferi ira Ductis" is much more fast-paced than the previous song, being very straight-forward in its approach. The tremolo riffs are sharp and the distortion gives them quite a fuzzy sound. The drums are fairly simple, keeping the focus on the guitars and the sickening vocals. The melodies create a chaotic and tense feeling, while Will's screams convince you that you must be trapped in some hellish asylum.

The next song is "Curse My Funeral". It starts with a very eerie intro and maintains this feeling throughout. It's very slow and creepy, for the first couple minutes. The speed then increases with the tormented screams hovering over the mournful tremolo riffs. The sense that you get from this is that of reveling in sin and damnation; to celebrate the sickness and depravity of the human mind, forever abandoning futile attempts for salvation or anything other than simply wallowing at the depths of this abysmal darkness.

"My shadows is creeping on the grey stones
Descending the stares of a forgotten castle
The years have past and war time is over
Are those steps going to Hell"

"A Dream" follows this, though it seems more like a nightmare. It consists of acoustic melodies that are truly haunting, joined by eerily spoken lyrics that sound like something inhuman. The entire effect is disturbing and it succeeds in bringing to mind horrible visions and feelings of terror.

"Black Millenium" is full-speed Black Metal, being very straight-forward. The lyrics deal with apocalyptic themes of destruction, death and disease. It is enough to make one wish that it was possible to watch from the outside as the whole of humanity was utterly destroyed, with all civilization being forever devastated and left in ruins. The riffs are hypnotic at times, sending your mind to wander in worlds beyond.

"The essence of Evil comes from the inside"

A mournful and eerie melody introduces "No Mercy For Humans", though this rapidly transitions into something that is almost up-beat. It is a fairly fast-paced song, with the exception of sections where it slows down for a bit. The slow parts are very sorrowful and introspective. The best quality of the song may be the lyrics, however.

"I hate the way they move and exist but they’re surrounding me
I cried for days because of you, I wish you all die soon
No mercy for humans."

Over the years, I've found myself becoming increasingly disgusted with the mere existence of most humans. It's no longer a matter of them inconveniencing me or causing me any difficulty. Simply looking at most of them, studying their ugly faces and hearing their grating voices fills me with an uncontrollable hatred that will only be satiated when 99% of the human race has died by violent means.

The final real song is "Black As Lead and Death", which starts out with another cold tremolo melody, with the drumming being a little loud in the mix, early on. It's strange how this is much clearer than the earlier recordings, yet the necro feeling is still there in some ways, though not really the sound. The best part of the song comes when everything stops, leaving a lone guitar melody to cycle through a few times, creating an even colder atmosphere of misery. The song slows down, not long after this, as Will's vocals are completely consumed with absolute hatred and insanity. The sound is very minimalist, and this tempo continues through the end of the song. This is followed by an unsettling outro.

Black Millenium (Grimly Reborn) marked not only the rebirth of Mütiilation, but also the beginning of a new era for this grim and hateful project. There were still some ties to the past, with similarities to the solo material that Meyhna'ch recorded in 1996 (included on the Remains... album). Though it is different from the older releases, the same morbid feeling is present. It is worth checking out.
 
(22 Sept. 2009)

 
 

Deathspell Omega did well to latch on to other well-known Black Metal bands and to use them in order to help make a name for themselves, early on in their career. This was especially the case with the releases that they did with Moonblood and Mütiilation. The Mütiilation / Deathspell Omega 10" E.P. was released on End All Life and limited to 400 copies. While one band was among the most notable in the history of the French scene, the other would eventually eclipse them and go on to attain a higher level of popularity than most would have guessed, at the time. This release is a good example of why, as Mütiilation was simply coasting by on name-value and had little to prove, while Shaxul, Hasjarl and Khaos had to put forth much more effort to prove themselves worthy of such an association.

The Mütiilation track, "Beyond the Decay of Time and Flies", shows a band that is a pale shadow of what it once was. Meyhna'ch was working solo, by this point, and the results were a far cry from the brilliant material that was found on the early demos and full-length. While the overall style is similar, there is a very annoying quality to the production and songwriting. There is some unnecessary effect being used on the vocals, and the drum programming could not sound more fake and mechanical. The riffs are not even that good, but would have been quite a bit better if the other elements had been able to make up for the lack of creativity. All complaints aside, the song is able to stir up feelings of misery and darkness, once the listener is able to forget the details and be immersed in the music. Still, this is only a fraction of what it could have been and does not do well to represent the real Mütiilation.

The first of the two DsO contributions is "Insanity Supreme", which easily destroys the previous song. The open-arpeggio riffs that introduce the track soon give way to an intense tremolo melody that hearkens back to early Darkthrone. The sense of unease that exists within much of this band's material is present and this is aided greatly by the maniacal vocal performance. The two riff styles alternate throughout the rest of the song, creating a dismal atmosphere and doing well to show up their 'mentors'.

"For Fire and Void Become One" is more of a throw-away track, compared to the other one. The first half of the song is fast-paced but lacks the sense of cohesion that was displayed earlier. A morbid feeling is developed around the middle, as the tempo slows and the guitars work to create a dark and eerie vibe. After a while, the other riffs return and the song reaches a rather predictable conclusion. It is not bad, but it is not very impressive.

While the Mütiilation song sounds too simplistic and modern at the same time, Deathspell Omega manages to sound more organic and raw, though they were also using a drum program at the time (as far as I can recall). Their material sounds much more confident and together, as well, with "Insanity Supreme" really stealing the show here. This is not an essential release, in any way, but worth checking out for the one DsO song, at least.
 
(28 Sept. 2011)

 
 

For a long time, I saw the release of Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul as the end of the true Mütiilation. The records that Meyhna'ch made after his return from obscurity were something different and unworthy of consideration. I maintained this approach for several years, before finally deciding to give these solo albums another chance. As life had gotten unbelievably worse than it already was, I found myself open to exploring the demented works of his later albums. By judging them for what they are, rather than comparing them to the band's early era, I was able to appreciate them more. This was especially true for the March 2003 release of Majestas Leprosus which very well may be the best L.P. to emerge from this period of Mütiilation's existence.

The only real complaints here would have to be that the sound is rather sterile, due to the drum programming and the digital recording. It seems like the guitars were recorded directly onto a pc, really lacking any sort of rawness. Analog equipment and a real drummer (even a somewhat clumsy and half-competent one) would really have benefited this album greatly. However, Meyna'ch was probably just working with whatever he had available and felt compelled to create music, even if not via the most preferable means. If one can get past the cleaner, more mechanical sound, there is still a good deal of worthwhile material on Majestus Leprosus.

As for the songwriting, itself, Majestas Leprosus is filled with good riffs that hearken back to the band's glory years. The epic tremolo riffs of "Tormenting My Nights" and "Bitterness Bloodred" would have fit into the dark atmosphere of Vampires of Black Imperial Blood, without question. Despite the horrid production, it is clear that even the vocal patterns are more thought-out and Meyhna'ch's voice is utilized as yet another instrument. Once the listener is able to get used to the inferior production and focus on the guitar melodies, then it is possible to appreciate the sense of despair and hopelessness that bleeds forth. "Beyond the Decay" offers a few sorrowful melodies that also serve as a soundtrack to self-mutilation. "The Ugliness Inside" hearkens back to the demo period, though the wretched production does not allow it to realize its potential. Several of the guitar melodies on this record are quite epic, in a sense. For whatever Majestus Leprosus may be lacking, as a result of the recording conditions, the songwriting makes up for it. The final track, "If Those Walls Could Speak", is very memorable and does a decent enough job of maintaining the sickened, suicidal atmosphere. The gloomy tremolo melodies are quite haunting, while the vocals are dripping with a morbid feeling.

"At night I can hear the chanting of the dead…
Here is no peace…"

Majestas Leprosus is filled with murky, lugubrious riffs, accompanied by extremely hateful and deathlike vocals, combining to create the most memorable material of Mütiilation's later period. Though the means of recording are unfortunate, there is still a genuine feeling of darkness that is conveyed by these songs and the sincerity of the compositions is something that makes this record my favourite of Meyhna'ch's solo work. If you are able to look beyond its flaws and immerse yourself in the atmosphere of melancholy that it gives rise to, Majestas Leprosus is very much worth checking out.
 
(29 Sept. 2011)

 
 

Released in January 2005 on Ordealis, Rattenkönig is the fourth full-length album from Mütiilation, arriving about a decade after the band's debut record. Limited to 2000 copies, this album maintains the dark and mournful style of Black Metal that Meyhna'ch had become known for, despite the number of changes since the early years. Though it possesses several of the same flaws that plagued the previous record, it comes off as a sufficiently solid and consistent effort, overall.

It was during a particularly bleak period of my existence that I first gave this album a real chance, along with Majestas Leprosus, and this was the one that appealed to me the most at the time. While it does not compare to the older material, it still seemed like an improvement over an album like Black Millenium. There is no real epic sense of going on a journey through Hell or anything of that nature. Instead, the entirety of this record is like the death throes of a being that is simply wallowing at the depths of suffering, with no sense of hope. Meyhna'ch does well the create an utterly miserable record that feeds the negativity and anguish of the listener and even encourages the spilling of blood in the nocturnal hours.

The production is very similar to the previous record, in that it sounds quite lifeless and sterile, due to the horrible production and the drum programming. The guitars sound a little lower in the mix, which is definitely a bad thing. The guitar riffs are always supposed to be the primary focus and, in a situation like this, should not be de-emphasized. There is no rawness to the sound, at all, though it is not polished by any means. The drums are just as terrible as on the last album, and the poor choices in mixing result in this aspect being even more noticeable, at times. Meyhna'ch also continues using the electronic effects and some samples, possibly as a feeble attempt to add an eerie feeling to the music. It sounds more out of place than anything, and detracts from the general atmosphere.

While not quite as good as Majestas Leprosus, the songwriting succeeds in coming off as more cohesive than that of Black Millenium. The album flows better, sounding as if more thought went into the arrangement of each track. Rather than containing a few good songs and then a handful of throw-away tracks, Rattenkönig is more consistent than its predecessor. That being said, songs like "That Night When I Died" and "The Bitter Taste of Emotional Void" are certainly the most dismal and memorable of the whole album. Nonetheless, even these highlights display a level of potential that goes unrealized, as the production renders the guitars much less effective than they should be and allows the vocals to force the material along more than any other single element. The vocal performance does offer more variety and shows more effort than the last couple of albums, but it is a shame that the guitar melodies are relegated to backing noise, due to the horrid mix.

Rattenkönig is a solid album, though it represents even more of a disconnect with the old days. Whereas the last record still contained a few ideas that hearkened back to the band's classic period, Mütiilation had certainly evolved into something else by this point. This is not a release for someone just getting into the band, nor is it an album that is likely to appeal to anyone seeking a sound similar to the demos or other early releases. Nonetheless, it offers the same type of melancholic Black Metal that Meyhna'ch spent so many years cultivating and is worth a listen if you are able to get past the atrocious production.
 
(30 Sept. 2011)

 
 

Released in September 2007 by End All Life, Sorrow Galaxies is the fifth and final full-length album from Mütiilation. This record maintains the sense of gloom that has characterized most of Meyhna'ch's work, yet it represents a departure from the band's established sound, in some ways. It improves upon some of the flaws of the previous few albums and comes off as Mütiilation's most ambitious effort in quite some time. Since the band was laid to rest over two years later, it is not exactly clear as to whether or not this was planned to be the final chapter, but it is somehow fitting, nonetheless.

The first thing that listeners might notice is the presence of a real drummer, which makes all the difference in the world. The music takes on a more natural, organic feeling, and this also allows the riffs to break free of the rigid patterns that have restricted their movement for the last several albums, possibly having something to do with the more epic and expansive sound of Sorrow Galaxies. It is a shame that it took so long to take care of this issue, but one can at least appreciate that the problem was finally rectified. The result is an album that stands a far better chance of being taken seriously, possessing a more genuine feel.

Oddly, the cover art seems to have more in common with the preceding records, which included strange electronic effects that gave a rather spacey quality to the music, at times. Thankfully, this horrid experimentation is at a minimum here, and is almost completely non-existent. While there are some samples used, it never gets to the point where it compromises the atmosphere of the music and is done in a less-invasive manner. One gets the impression that Meyhna'ch had a checklist of mistakes that he was attempting to avoid repeating.

Another improvement is the guitar tone and the fact that the guitars are, once again, more prominent in the mix. The riffs are more powerful and manage to better convey the intended feeling, with the mournful and icy riffs washing over you and immersing you in total darkness. One of the main complaints regarding Rattenkönig was that the guitars were too low and ineffective, leaving the vocals as the main driving force of the songs.

Speaking of the vocals, the previous album displayed a little more variation and hearkened back to some of the techniques utilized in years past, but here Meyhna'ch sounds a bit more monotone. Not only is his performance kind of flat, but his voice sounds deeper than usual, as well. This is a stark contrast to the wretched screams of Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul. The sound is much more lifeless and devoid of emotion, as if he has shed all but the tiniest remnants of his humanity. In a sense, it suits the music, which is also colder and less overtly melancholic, while still being dismal.

Musically, Sorrow Galaxies is far less one-dimensional than might have been expected. Largely due to the improvements that have been made, the music is able to breathe and to more freely explore the shadows of misery and hatred. The tempos are much more varied, with slower doom-inspired sections being worked into the morbid tapestry of suffering that is on display, here. Songs like "Cosmic Seeds of Anger & Dementia" pick up from where the final song of the previous album left off, utilizing the sombre thrash riffs that Mütiilation has long been known for and blending them with mournful tremolo melodies and the more bleak and funereal riffs that crawl along at the pace of death. The faster riffs strike as being reminiscent of the band's past works, such as Vampires of Black Imperial Blood, maintaining a sense of continuity. This is also true of the tremolo melodies featured in "The Coffin of Lost Innocence", which evoke sorrow and despondency. "Cesium Syndrome 86" may sound the closest to the older material, which is refreshing in a way since the previous record offered very few ideas that possessed any connection to the band's past, other than the overall mood in general. It is also the most straightforward track on the album, though not one-dimensional by any means. The final track, "Acceptance of My Decay", seems to tie everything together, employing riffs that sort of correspond to ideas expressed earlier in the album, while elaborating on the themes of hopelessness and torment that permeate much of the material.

Sorrow Galaxies is, undoubtedly, the strongest Mütiilation album in many years, with each song coming across as strong and purposeful and all working together toward a common goal. The musical ideas that are expressed uphold sense of coherence that was not always present on the last few records. The songs are more epic and the arrangements are carefully thought-out, with each piece realizing its full potential. This release comes recommended and should satisfy any fan that has been disappointed with various aspects of Mütiilation's recent output. With this album, Meyhna'ch made his final statement and put an end to a musical entity that had existed for nearly two decades and faded back into obscurity.

"Hope is dead... healing will never come"
 
(30 Sept. 2011)

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