Mutilation Rites – Harbinger (Prosthetic Records)

Thursday, 10th July 2014
Rating: 8/10

There’s not much one could do with this album except admire its mind-contorting malice. Harbinger might just put an end to the bad rep Brooklyn’s Mutilation Rites have built over the last several years. The ugly, dark, heavy and rampant Harbinger basically has everything needed to be the fiercely wild and confoundedly twisted black metal album that it is. Even if you’re not very fond of the blackened/crust/death/sludge plunderers who recorded it, Harbinger is quite affable.

They’ve developed a very crisp sound quality, probably better than what they give themselves credit for. With the nasty harsh vocals, extra bass, deeply resonant reverb and dominant darkness, Mutilation Rites have a sound that’s both vile and musical. Harbinger is weighty in bass and full of shrilling tones but (appreciatively) has none of that awful eardrum-rupturing treble that too often gets mixed in. The velvety leather wallop of the drums tells us the drummer knows not just how to play but properly knows how to use the bass, snare, and cymbals. No glass-breaking cymbal clashes or weak drum beats. Someone’s been practicing! And don’t even try to understand the lyrics, they’re gnarly snarly and excellent for those spiteful, brutal, rage-corrupted moods when articulating words is irrelevant. Here, it’s all about the mood, and the mood is purely distorted wrath in deformed filthiness.

“Black Pyramid” has a torrential atmosphere that hits harder than hail. Just when you think it begins to recede, the violence proliferates. The daunting frenzy of “Suffer the Children” meets up to its name because it could easily make a child cry. “Conspiracy of Silence” is a feat of blaring noise with musical structure and utter bellicosity all in one. Indeed, Harbinger doesn’t include anything short of the recurring suicidal-homicidal aggression found in all eight tracks.

It’s an album worth having for its invigorating and nerve-wracking debauchery. Word of caution, Harbinger is not for the weak-hearted because it’s harshly apprehensive at times, possibly enough to cause cardiac arrest. Enjoy the unnecessary anxiety.

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