Falling on the cusp between black and death metal, Mutilation Rites’ style of music can best be described as abrasive, crushingly heavy, and thoroughly mood-invoking. So… its basically like any other metal album. Well, one difference being that its one of the better black/death projects that has came out this year.
While the release in question has reached critical acclaim, Mutilation Rites’ work ethic and perseverance should not be overlooked when such applause is given. Founded back in 2009, the New York-based quartet already has a fair number of releases under their belt (belts? Collective belt?). Barring the four year break in between their second and third LPs, the group has been releasing demos, EPs, full-lengths, and splits consecutively since their formation. The above factors in upon the discovery that the group’s early material has been criticized heavily. The good news is that Mutilation Rites has been honing in on their style with relentless band activity and writing practice, which has all culminated to their most recent release, Chasm.
Chasm is a great record for metal enthusiasts who lean more towards the death metal side of the spectrum but find themselves enthralled within black metal’s atmospheric allure. Such is essentially myself; I’ll put on one of Darkthrone’s classics and enjoy the material for what its worth, especially culturally within the genre, but the album fails to entice me on a further discovery aspect. With that being said, Chasm is the perfect mix of black/death if you identify with any of the discussion above.
The release is ultimately best described as a collection of songs which feature drumming and song composition on the death metal side of the equation, which is ultimately coupled with a guitar tone and vocal performance which leans towards a black metal aesthetic. The whole schtick has been done before by other blackened death metal groups, but Mutilation Rites just does it really well. Check out the opening track “Pierced Larynx” below.
The album features six tracks which are all relatively lengthy, all falling above the six-minute mark (barring “Axiom Destroyer”, one of the release’s singles which spans just over three minutes long). This quality is ultimately concluded with “Putrid Decomposition”, Chasm’s behemoth final track which clocks in at double-digit minutes. Such a theme is inherently risky, as your record can instantly be a hit or a miss among fans. The choice to opt in for longer and more drawn-out songs segregates the fanbases that prefer short blistering tracks. This discussion is all irrelevant, however, as the group’s members couple their lengthy songs with tantalizing song compositions and a flame that doesn’t burn out. Chasm is littered with swirling song introductions, mid-track transitions, and fair variety, which all contribute to the album’s entertainment aspect.
The release ultimately displays the group’s maturity, experience within the metal sphere, and reluctance to conform to any societal norm. The songs are lengthy and drawn out because the group’s members wanted to make a record in that style, so they went through with it. A younger, less experienced group would wonder if their release would work in such a style, or if they’d be better off opting in for shorter song structures; Mutilation Rites is at that career point whereby they straddle the cusp between being beginners and being knowledgeable. They’ve been around for just under ten years as of the writing of this article, and they know what they’re doing. You can feel the confidence on this record.
Mutilation Rites has no where to go but up as of now. They’ve released an excellent record, and they will reap the rewards from their hard work within the following months, especially since they are doing a European tour at the moment.
In terms of further criticism, I have nothing more to mention. The vocal performances are raw, the drumming is a kick to the face, and the songs work well, especially considering their specific style. While fans of any black metal acts will enjoy this release, those leaning towards the death metal end of the spectrum will appreciate this as well if you’re looking to chase a different kind of sound. The album is out on Bandcamp in digital, vinyl, and compact disc formats via Gilead Media.