Mütiilation - _1992-2002: Ten Years of Depressive Destruction_
(End All Life, 2003)
by: James Montague (7.5 out of 10)
Mütiilation. End All Life Productions. 666 copies. Double LP with poster. Vinyl only. For those who were born yesterday, this means eBay paydirt. That will probably take care of about 500 of the 666 available copies, and I hope the buyers choke on them. For people who buy rarities for humbler reasons such as musical interest, read on.

While the title may indicate some kind of "Greatest Hits" compilation, this is in fact a collection of material from demos, live performances and other impossible-to-find stuff, making it the ideal gift for people like me, who wasn't quite "with it" in 1992 and refuses to pay $100 for a scratchy demo tape from an online entrepreneur. The first two tracks are from the _Rites Through the Twilight of Hell_ demo ('92) and show the band in its infancy, playing raw Venom-based blackened thrash, with incompetent drumming and extreme, painful howling over the top. This style noticeably developed over the ensuing year, as evidenced by the next four tracks from the much-improved _Ceremony of the Black Cult_ demo. This is where the band's trademarks -- slow, discordant dirges and despondent arpeggios -- started to rear their ugly heads.

A keyboard version of "Dawn of the Fallen Angel" comes next, and appears to be the one previously unreleased track on the compilation. It is certainly a worthy addition -- a moody, dark organ piece with vomitous vocals perverting it to kingdom come. This leads us into the compilation's highlight, three tracks from the sublime _Satanist Styrken_ demo from 1994. By this stage the musicianship (especially the drumming) had progressed from near-ineptitude to agreeable black metal spontaneity and looseness. This allowed the band to fully establish "the Mütiilation sound" -- haunting, almost romantic melodies enshrouded in a blur of utter loathing of oneself and all around. These perfect songs have convinced me that _Satanist Styrken_ is one of the finest demos ever released, so if you must venture onto eBay with copious amounts of hard-earned, try to direct your efforts in its direction.

The second LP starts with a cover of Bathory's "Rite of Darkness" from a '94 promo. Meyhna'ch does a pretty accurate Quorthon impression, and the song evokes the '80s spirit quite nicely -- which of course makes the song far too upbeat for a Mütiilation release! But it is very brief -- barely over a minute long. Unfortunately, the second LP continues to throw disappointments into the mix, as it then regurgitates "Dawn of the Fallen Angel", this time the metal version that previously appeared on Drakkar Productions' 1997 compilation, and which drew severe criticism from me at the time for its contrived feel and horrid machine-generated blast beats. The noisy B-side track from the _New False Prophet_ single, a raw mix of the title piece from the ultimately pedestrian _Black Millennium_ CD (this was pointless...) and a cover of Venom's "Possessed" from the _Destroy Your Life for Satan_ cassette round out a rather ho-hum side C.

Side D chronicles something many of us probably never expected to hear: a live Mütiilation performance, from the Under the Black Sun festival in July 2001. Thankfully, the setlist includes one song each from the legendary _Vampires of Black Imperial Blood_ and _Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul_ albums, plus an old demo piece, but frustratingly, they took two of the five tracks from the less interesting and more readily available _Black Millennium_. As for the more pertinent question of performance quality -- well, despite Meyhna'ch's oh-so-impressive ability to scream "Desecrate Jesus' Fuckin' Naaaame!!!" in introducing an old song, the performance is competently played but nothing to write home about. There is a reason why many of us never expected to hear Mütiilation in concert: because this just isn't festival music. I can't really picture myself standing in a mosh pit with sweaty Marseille metal fans while listening to a band that has always created such an atmosphere of bitter solitude. Nor would I ever expect to hear the vocalist yell "Come on! Come onnnn!" in the middle of a song, but there it is for all to hear... The live tracks are good to have as a curiosity piece, but aren't exactly a highlight of this band's work. The vocals and drums are also far too loud in the mix, drowning out the band's trademark noisy ambience and sublime guitar melodies.

Although the second LP is a little underwhelming, this compilation is worth having for the first disc, a marvellous collection of inspired demos. A gatefold cover full of ugly photos of Meyhna'ch is also something of a bonus, I suppose. Overall, this compilation makes a very nice souvenir of Mütiilation's decade-long tour through Miseryville and Suicide Planet.

Contact: eal@wanadoo.fr

(article published 4/7/2003)

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