mutilation rites-empyreanSelf branded as dark filthy metal from Brooklyn, Mutilation Rites is exactly that and more. Think black encrusted doom at louder than hell decibels and that is what these boys from NYC deliver. Their latest release Empyrean was picked up by Prosthetic Records, as wisely so I might add, prior to this these lads have toiled away in virtual anonymity.

This release opens on a blackened soundscape that is ‘A Season of Grey Rain’. There is a little of everything in the opening bars here that signal greatness. Furious drumming, dramatic bass lines, fuzz out growls, and riffage, oh yes there is riffage. Reminiscent of Darkthrone and Black Cobra this quartet beats and slashes their way through this first track in true dark fashion. There is nothing overdone, everything is in its place as it should be. All in all a dramatic opening track.

Jolting through the next couple we land on ‘Ancient Bloodbath’. Starting with a drumming ferocity from Justin Ennis, that has left this reviewer wondering if he is even human with the pace that he keeps. That is not to say that it is speed drumming in some incoherent fashion, quite the contrary, it is completely coherent in all places and creatively brutal throughout. As with Bloodbath, and all the other tracks, the riffing is top notch and bass lines are near perfect crafting out track after track of black doom glory.

‘Dead Years’ for me is the best track on the release. It has a great galloping opening dropping into these great fast and slow doom style riffs. Dimmitt’s vocals are the perfect add to this release. It carries the right amount of desperate emotion in perfect dark harmony with the feel of Empyrean. With only one track under the five minute mark, we see how Mutilation Rites pushes themselves through each track with sounding overdone and repetitive. As length of tracks increase it is a real danger to fall into the trap of sameness and carrying just because you can, not here, there is a layered texture to these tracks that ebbs and flows giving the listener something unique through each second of Empyrean.

This was definitely one of the surprises of the year for me alongside Pallbearer’s “Sorrow and Extinction”. It is truly a great year for releases when you find that one or two and sometimes more that come purely out of left field and hit you square in the chest with metal greatness. I am proud to say “Empyrean” is just one of those black gems. If you have never heard of Mutilation Rites, go find them and listen you will not be disappointed.

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