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Album Review: MUTILATION RITES Empyrean

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Mutilation Rites’ discography is a bit confounding, traversing multiple line-ups, demos, splits, and EPs. The band’s rapid gestation has been very public, but every minute of their music to-date is worthwhile. Empyrean is the band’s first full-length, and the album’s breakneck plummet through black metal, thrash, death, and doom hits the spot with a vengeance. Mutilation Rites have arrived at their own birth fully grown and bristling with hatred.

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Empyrean is a breathless barrage of ideas. The album’s expeditious, organic metamorphoses will entrap your ears without presenting a single moment of tedium. Mutilation Rites appropriate the droning tonal tropes of atmospheric black metal but turn its churn towards kinetic violence. With little notice, you’ll be dropped into a monstrous groove of thrashing oblivion, recalling the primal essences of both early Exodus and Slayer. These sudden, explosive interludes connect directly to a listener’s headbanging neurotransmitters; Empyrean is a dangerous album.

Mutilation Rites wield the sinister with swagger. Torrential, tremolo picked riffs often transmit enough melody to invoke Dissection, but this is not a constant. Some tracks take off with locomotive intensity, reminding me of Black Anvil’s jackhammer majesty. Doomy decelerations present entrancing melancholic detours but are always wrapped in thunderous cacophony. This band thrives on aural impact.

Much of Empyrean’s immediacy is owed to the band’s preposterous rhythm section and the righteous manner in which it was recorded. Justin Ennis’ drumming is monstrously manic, throwing around swing with impunity and pumping punk life into every corner of this recording. Ryan Jones’ bass is high in the mix, displaying keen interstitial skills and reminding me repeatedly of Frank Bello on Persistence of Time.

These sonic landscapes are filled with abject hatred, disgust and sorrow. George Paul’s stone cold crazy, unintelligible screams are your guide on this tour of acrimony. His deranged voice is an important cog in Empyrean’s success, tying it together with an air of utter loathing. We have no idea what the man is saying (there are no printed lyrics), but the intent is blindingly clear; Mutilation Rites are not pleased with existence.

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Empyrean will catch you off guard, luring you in with howling riffs, windswept ferocity and an immersive rhythmic enfilade. Prepare for the unexpected.

8.9/10

Empyrean is out now on Prosthetic Records.  You can stream the entire album here.

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