Sunday, September 18, 2011

Mütiilation - Ceremony of Black Cult (1993)

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.