Published Jul 22, 2014Mutilation Rites are ostensibly a black metal band, but on Harbinger, they've found smart and subtle ways of shaking up the genre's conventions. Serving as the blueprint for the rest of the songs on the record, opening track "Black Pyramid" begins with a rollicking intro, until blasting drums and rolling bass then push and warp the song into something wholly different, as Mutilation Rites use black metal's characteristic corpse paint to draw vast murals of jagged, interlocking shapes. Some of the shorter tracks even approach accessibility-- "Contaminate" is basically a Mastodon song in disguise, doing all the typical black metal histrionic hand gestures in an attempt not to get noticed.
Vocalist George Paul's performances are of particular note on Harbinger, especially on "Exhaling Or Breathing In," on which he effortlessly draws on a spectrum of sounds, ranging from an ursine growl to higher-pitched hiss, while the band supports him with an absolutely thunderous cacophony throughout. (Prosthetic Records)