Friday, September 30, 2011

Mütiilation - Sorrow Galaxies (2007)

Released in September 2007 by End All Life, Sorrow Galaxies is the fifth and final full-length album from Mütiilation. This record maintains the sense of gloom that has characterized most of Meyhna'ch's work, yet it represents a departure from the band's established sound, in some ways. It improves upon some of the flaws of the previous few albums and comes off as Mütiilation's most ambitious effort in quite some time. Since the band was laid to rest over two years later, it is not exactly clear as to whether or not this was planned to be the final chapter, but it is somehow fitting, nonetheless.

The first thing that listeners might notice is the presence of a real drummer, which makes all the difference in the world. The music takes on a more natural, organic feeling, and this also allows the riffs to break free of the rigid patterns that have restricted their movement for the last several albums, possibly having something to do with the more epic and expansive sound of Sorrow Galaxies. It is a shame that it took so long to take care of this issue, but one can at least appreciate that the problem was finally rectified. The result is an album that stands a far better chance of being taken seriously, possessing a more genuine feel.

Oddly, the cover art seems to have more in common with the preceding records, which included strange electronic effects that gave a rather spacey quality to the music, at times. Thankfully, this horrid experimentation is at a minimum here, and is almost completely non-existent. While there are some samples used, it never gets to the point where it compromises the atmosphere of the music and is done in a less-invasive manner. One gets the impression that Meyhna'ch had a checklist of mistakes that he was attempting to avoid repeating.

Another improvement is the guitar tone and the fact that the guitars are, once again, more prominent in the mix. The riffs are more powerful and manage to better convey the intended feeling, with the mournful and icy riffs washing over you and immersing you in total darkness. One of the main complaints regarding Rattenkönig was that the guitars were too low and ineffective, leaving the vocals as the main driving force of the songs.

Speaking of the vocals, the previous album displayed a little more variation and hearkened back to some of the techniques utilized in years past, but here Meyhna'ch sounds a bit more monotone. Not only is his performance kind of flat, but his voice sounds deeper than usual, as well. This is a stark contrast to the wretched screams of Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul. The sound is much more lifeless and devoid of emotion, as if he has shed all but the tiniest remnants of his humanity. In a sense, it suits the music, which is also colder and less overtly melancholic, while still being dismal.

Musically, Sorrow Galaxies is far less one-dimensional than might have been expected. Largely due to the improvements that have been made, the music is able to breathe and to more freely explore the shadows of misery and hatred. The tempos are much more varied, with slower doom-inspired sections being worked into the morbid tapestry of suffering that is on display, here. Songs like "Cosmic Seeds of Anger & Dementia" pick up from where the final song of the previous album left off, utilizing the sombre thrash riffs that Mütiilation has long been known for and blending them with mournful tremolo melodies and the more bleak and funereal riffs that crawl along at the pace of death. The faster riffs strike as being reminiscent of the band's past works, such as Vampires of Black Imperial Blood, maintaining a sense of continuity. This is also true of the tremolo melodies featured in "The Coffin of Lost Innocence", which evoke sorrow and despondency. "Cesium Syndrome 86" may sound the closest to the older material, which is refreshing in a way since the previous record offered very few ideas that possessed any connection to the band's past, other than the overall mood in general. It is also the most straightforward track on the album, though not one-dimensional by any means. The final track, "Acceptance of My Decay", seems to tie everything together, employing riffs that sort of correspond to ideas expressed earlier in the album, while elaborating on the themes of hopelessness and torment that permeate much of the material.

Sorrow Galaxies is, undoubtedly, the strongest Mütiilation album in many years, with each song coming across as strong and purposeful and all working together toward a common goal. The musical ideas that are expressed uphold sense of coherence that was not always present on the last few records. The songs are more epic and the arrangements are carefully thought-out, with each piece realizing its full potential. This release comes recommended and should satisfy any fan that has been disappointed with various aspects of Mütiilation's recent output. With this album, Meyhna'ch made his final statement and put an end to a musical entity that had existed for nearly two decades and faded back into obscurity.

"Hope is dead... healing will never come"