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.