Friday, September 30, 2011

Mütiilation - Rattenkönig (2005)

Released in January 2005 on Ordealis, Rattenkönig is the fourth full-length album from Mütiilation, arriving about a decade after the band's debut record. Limited to 2000 copies, this album maintains the dark and mournful style of Black Metal that Meyhna'ch had become known for, despite the number of changes since the early years. Though it possesses several of the same flaws that plagued the previous record, it comes off as a sufficiently solid and consistent effort, overall.

It was during a particularly bleak period of my existence that I first gave this album a real chance, along with Majestas Leprosus, and this was the one that appealed to me the most at the time. While it does not compare to the older material, it still seemed like an improvement over an album like Black Millenium. There is no real epic sense of going on a journey through Hell or anything of that nature. Instead, the entirety of this record is like the death throes of a being that is simply wallowing at the depths of suffering, with no sense of hope. Meyhna'ch does well the create an utterly miserable record that feeds the negativity and anguish of the listener and even encourages the spilling of blood in the nocturnal hours.

The production is very similar to the previous record, in that it sounds quite lifeless and sterile, due to the horrible production and the drum programming. The guitars sound a little lower in the mix, which is definitely a bad thing. The guitar riffs are always supposed to be the primary focus and, in a situation like this, should not be de-emphasized. There is no rawness to the sound, at all, though it is not polished by any means. The drums are just as terrible as on the last album, and the poor choices in mixing result in this aspect being even more noticeable, at times. Meyhna'ch also continues using the electronic effects and some samples, possibly as a feeble attempt to add an eerie feeling to the music. It sounds more out of place than anything, and detracts from the general atmosphere.

While not quite as good as Majestas Leprosus, the songwriting succeeds in coming off as more cohesive than that of Black Millenium. The album flows better, sounding as if more thought went into the arrangement of each track. Rather than containing a few good songs and then a handful of throw-away tracks, Rattenkönig is more consistent than its predecessor. That being said, songs like "That Night When I Died" and "The Bitter Taste of Emotional Void" are certainly the most dismal and memorable of the whole album. Nonetheless, even these highlights display a level of potential that goes unrealized, as the production renders the guitars much less effective than they should be and allows the vocals to force the material along more than any other single element. The vocal performance does offer more variety and shows more effort than the last couple of albums, but it is a shame that the guitar melodies are relegated to backing noise, due to the horrid mix.

Rattenkönig is a solid album, though it represents even more of a disconnect with the old days. Whereas the last record still contained a few ideas that hearkened back to the band's classic period, Mütiilation had certainly evolved into something else by this point. This is not a release for someone just getting into the band, nor is it an album that is likely to appeal to anyone seeking a sound similar to the demos or other early releases. Nonetheless, it offers the same type of melancholic Black Metal that Meyhna'ch spent so many years cultivating and is worth a listen if you are able to get past the atrocious production.