Published Jul 20, 2018Black metal is, by definition, regressive. The second wave that came to define the sound was intentionally primitive — a reaction to the proficiency and polish of the exploding death metal scene, which brings up a conundrum: Is progression within an inherently backward-moving genre actually about pushing boundaries, or does progress come from dragging the knuckles so hard they bleed?
Brooklyn's Mutilation Rites began their career like many of their borough's blackened bros — pining for the past. Nearly a decade later, they've found themselves by expanding their sound on Chasm, and in doing so, widened the abyssal fissure between them and Transylvanian traditionalists.
Maintaining the dark atmosphere throughout, they kick off opener "Pierced Larynx" with ominous feedback and a burst of Full of Hell-esque energy. The staccato chugging opening eventually swings into a caveman death metal midsection, with soaking wet gargling shrieks piercing through. The blackened filth of "Axiom Destroyed" blazes by in under four minutes — the shortest song on the release — with guttural growls adding another layer of threat. Yes, the feral vocals are a standout here, but "Ominous Rituals" and "Post Mortem Obsession" show further musical growth, with some mid-era Death riffing and deadly crust, à la Mammoth Grinder, respectively.
Unfortunately, the album loses a bit of steam when it retreats into more straightforward blackness on the title track, which somewhat redeems itself with a jerky, crushing slow slog, and the ten-and-a-half minute "Putrid Decomposition," which drags its heels.
Still, the first four tracks on this six-song offering are damn near perfect and Mutilation Rites continue on their trajectory of improving on every release. With a little trimming of the fat and continual exploration of their death metal side, they'll no doubt make a masterpiece, and that's more important than staying indebted to a subgenre. (Gilead Media)