Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mütiilation - Rites through the Twilight of Hell (1992)

When I discovered Mütiilation, they only had only released two full-length albums, unless you count the Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul compilation that introduced me to this black cult. I quickly sought out any and all of the band's works, including this interesting demo from 1992. Rites through the Twilight of Hell almost seems like a full album, upon first glance. It has an intro and several average-length songs, and the whole thing clocks in around half an hour. However, actually listening to the tape shows that it is not only a mere demo, but an extremely rough one, at that.

The production gives a bad name to the word necro. This is some of the lowest-quality stuff that I can listen to and still tolerate. To put it into perspective, it is one step above Mayhem's Pure Fucking Armageddon. The guitars actually possess a nice, filthy tone, which is one of the positive points for the recording. However, the vocals are almost completely buried, adding only a small fraction of what they should to the overall atmosphere of the demo. The drums are also quite low, though this is probably for the better. In a sense, the whole recording comes off as just a rough tape of guitar riffs with vocals and drums added for effect.

For some time, I wondered why Meyhna'ch failed to re-record most of these songs, since it strikes one as being a waste. However, a closer listen reveals that the songwriting just is not very strong, and several of the tracks sound quite similar. There are a few decent ideas, here and there, but there is a complete lack of coherence within the material itself. The fact that a song like "Black Wind of War" was later salvaged (for the Hail Satanas We are the Black Legions E.P.) shows just how much the band developed over time. A few of the riffs appear later on, in altered form, but the majority was simply too unstructured to be worked with.

One of the main problems with the vocals, other than being buried so deep, is that there is hardly any logic to the vocal patterns and phrasing; little thought seems to have been given to the placement, and it all gives the impression of something that was improvised on the spot, in some cases. The guitar playing is very sloppy as well, with some really nice ideas being destroyed due to poor execution. In particular, this applies to a decent melody that emerges in the latter half of "Born in Malediction", along with the subsequent solo. It possesses a nice raw feeling, but one gets the sense that it could have been so much more. The drumming is quite awful too, though serving its purpose, reminding one of a kid playing drums on some boxes or maybe pots and pans. It actually works to their benefit that the percussion is not easily heard.

As for the songwriting, it is all very simplistic and primitive. An aura of doom pervades much of the music, here. There are a lot of mid-paced, down-picked riffs that carry a mournful feeling and convey some sense of misery and loss. The dark atmosphere of the music is only a shadow of what could have been (as with most aspects of this recording), but the potential is evident. The arrangement and structuring all comes off as haphazard and disjointed. Though it is a nice touch, the organ section of "Under the Fullmoon" really should have been worked in a more natural way. Rather than each song possessing its own identity, several of the riffs sound alike, on the first listen, which makes it difficult to get well-acquainted with the material. The music seems to take equal influence from 80's bands as well as the Black Metal scene that was taking shape to the north. Despite the rough nature of this recording, one can tell that Mütiilation had a vision that they were aspiring to. It was only a matter of time before they developed the talent to pull it off.

Rites through the Twilight of Hell is, probably, only of interest to die-hard fans and is not a good starting place for anyone that is new to the band. It is a collection of rough ideas that would slowly coalesce to form a unique entity that would span the next decade and a half. If you want to see the primitive beginnings of Mütiilation, this is it.