Mütiilation - _Vampires of Black Imperial Blood_
(Drakkar Prod. Vinland, 2001)
by: Alvin Wee (8.5 out of 10)
It's paradoxical how elusive this album has remained despite its status as a flagship monument of the French underground. Pioneering the raw and primitive, yet bewitchingly melodic French sound, the original Drakkar issue of _Vampires..._ has thus far only been available for cutthroat prices to many dedicated followers (the second, ridiculously limited vinyl run of 100 copies on EAL not helping either). A fitting release to mark the debut of Canada's new Drakkar branch, showcasing the label's expected penchant for all things grim and primitive. Packaged in a suitably minimalist setting, _Vampires..._ retains a strong thread of guitar melody through the harsh cacophony of dungeon-esque soundscapes that make up Mutiilation's repertoire. It isn't hard to see how this classic work has influenced bands like Warloghe and Judas Iscariot, and _Vampires..._ easily puts the majority of the neo-black metal scene today to shame. Even in comparison to the _Remains..._ album, Mutiilation's earlier work shines with a raw passion that elevates the material from mere buzzing monotony to a masterpiece of infernal ambience. Hints of Darkthrone (circa _Transilvanian Hunger_) surface on tracks like "Tears of a Melancholic Vampire" and "Born Under the Master's Spell", but always with a characteristic Mutiilation acerbity that might be attributed to Meyhnach's caustic vocal desecration. Drakkar Vinland's packaging values pale beside EAL's brilliant rendering of the album as a double-LP set; still, I wouldn't expect the 500 copies of this to last very long at the distros anyhow.

(article published 14/1/2002)

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