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For some years, it seemed that Meyhna'ch was dead. This was implied in the liner notes of Remains of a Ruined, Dead Cursed Soul. As it turned out, he was merely on a self-imposed hiatus. Disgusted with the way Black Metal was becoming more trendy and accepted, he saw no other option but to disappear. Yet his anger grew over the course of these years and he then chose to return in an effort to spread darkness and evil and to take Black Metal back for the older cults. This is according to the notes inside the 2001 release, Black Millenium (Grimly Reborn). This album is only the third full-length from Mütiilation, despite the band's lengthy history.
It was released not long before I discovered the band, actually, yet it would take me much longer to get my hands on it. I was exposed to this band through Remains..., which I then followed up on by seeking out more demo material. Having some prejudice against most newer music, I disregarded this release, at first. When I finally did check this one out, I was disappointed that it didn't sound more like Vampires of Black Imperial Blood or Hail Satanas We Are the Black Legions. However, anyone who has been in contact with Will knows that he is kind of fucked up and miserable, to an extent. This was a manner in which I could certainly relate, so I forced myself to give the music another chance and to refrain from comparing it to the earlier works. Once I managed this (and got over the lack of a real drummer), I was able to enjoy the album to some degree. However, the fact that I became acquainted with it during a rotten time in my existence means that it is the album that I listen to the least.
"The Eggs of Melancholy" starts out with a brief acoustic section, with some other effects in the background. This sets kind of a dreary tone, though the tempo soon changes to something much faster and more aggressive. Will's trademark thrash style is still present within the Mütiilation sound, mixed in with the more typical tremolo riffing. Vocally, he sounds bloody possessed and insane. This is the true voice of humanity. That may be one of the things that makes this darker than some other albums, as there is a sense of reality that many others lack. The song slows down, a few minutes in, as a funeral bell adds to the morbid atmosphere of this track. Will sounds like a half-decaying ghoul, looking for a grave to sleep in. Everything about this is dripping with death, sickness and plague.
"No one to bless the funeral, the priest was buried one week ago
Fields are changing to mass graves"
"New False Prophet" begins with a strange and eerie feeling. The guitars are very simplistic, as are the layered vocals, yet it all works well to create a very unsettling vibe. A minute or so into the song, the speed picks up to a blistering pace, yet the vocal lines stretch over several repetitions of the tremolo riffs. I've read someone make a simple comparison between this and early Darkthrone, but the similarities are only on the surface, if at all. The feeling conveyed here is morbid in a very sick and demented sense. The stench of death hovers over all, as these dark and melancholic sounds surround you.
The next song is "The Hanged Priest", which begins at full speed, rather than utilizing any kind of intro. This song features more blackened thrash riffs, while being sort of mid-paced throughout. There are several tempo changes, though nothing terribly extreme. Will's vocal insanity is taken to deeper depths as the song progresses. The demonic voices, added in the background, are a nice touch as well.
"Inferi ira Ductis" is much more fast-paced than the previous song, being very straight-forward in its approach. The tremolo riffs are sharp and the distortion gives them quite a fuzzy sound. The drums are fairly simple, keeping the focus on the guitars and the sickening vocals. The melodies create a chaotic and tense feeling, while Will's screams convince you that you must be trapped in some hellish asylum.
The next song is "Curse My Funeral". It starts with a very eerie intro and maintains this feeling throughout. It's very slow and creepy, for the first couple minutes. The speed then increases with the tormented screams hovering over the mournful tremolo riffs. The sense that you get from this is that of reveling in sin and damnation; to celebrate the sickness and depravity of the human mind, forever abandoning futile attempts for salvation or anything other than simply wallowing at the depths of this abysmal darkness.
"My shadows is creeping on the grey stones
Descending the stares of a forgotten castle
The years have past and war time is over
Are those steps going to Hell"
"A Dream" follows this, though it seems more like a nightmare. It consists of acoustic melodies that are truly haunting, joined by eerily spoken lyrics that sound like something inhuman. The entire effect is disturbing and it succeeds in bringing to mind horrible visions and feelings of terror.
"Black Millenium" is full-speed Black Metal, being very straight-forward. The lyrics deal with apocalyptic themes of destruction, death and disease. It is enough to make one wish that it was possible to watch from the outside as the whole of humanity was utterly destroyed, with all civilization being forever devastated and left in ruins. The riffs are hypnotic at times, sending your mind to wander in worlds beyond.
"The essence of Evil comes from the inside"
A mournful and eerie melody introduces "No Mercy For Humans", though this rapidly transitions into something that is almost up-beat. It is a fairly fast-paced song, with the exception of sections where it slows down for a bit. The slow parts are very sorrowful and introspective. The best quality of the song may be the lyrics, however.
"I hate the way they move and exist but they’re surrounding me
I cried for days because of you, I wish you all die soon
No mercy for humans."
Over the years, I've found myself becoming increasingly disgusted with the mere existence of most humans. It's no longer a matter of them inconveniencing me or causing me any difficulty. Simply looking at most of them, studying their ugly faces and hearing their grating voices fills me with an uncontrollable hatred that will only be satiated when 99% of the human race has died by violent means.
The final real song is "Black As Lead and Death", which starts out with another cold tremolo melody, with the drumming being a little loud in the mix, early on. It's strange how this is much clearer than the earlier recordings, yet the necro feeling is still there in some ways, though not really the sound. The best part of the song comes when everything stops, leaving a lone guitar melody to cycle through a few times, creating an even colder atmosphere of misery. The song slows down, not long after this, as Will's vocals are completely consumed with absolute hatred and insanity. The sound is very minimalist, and this tempo continues through the end of the song. This is followed by an unsettling outro.
Black Millenium (Grimly Reborn) certainly was the rebirth of this band and, though it is different from the older material, the same morbid feeling is present. It is definitely a worthy addition to any Mütiilation fan's collection.
As much as this album seems to get panned in comparison to Mütiilation's older material, it stands up as a damn solid black metal album in it's own right. OK, so the atmosphere of old is entirely smothered by a relatively clear, sterile production - but in spite of that, you can still palpably sense M'yanech's drug-fueled hatred seething from every note. Overall this a lot faster and more intense than Vampires.. and Remains.., lashing out with a much more aggressive approach rather than the languid darkness they once conjured up. Reduced entirely to a drum-machine driven solo project, the new face of Mütiilation is one of intense hatred rather than melancholic madness.
After a deceptively clean, strummed-chord intro, "The Eggs Of Melancholy" smacks you over the head with an insane 5 minutes of high speed blackened chaos. It's followed by the slower, creeping riffage of "New False Prophet", which has since become something of an anthem. The chord progressions and clean-picked main riff in this song ooze complete lunacy, fitting well with the disturbing lyrical content (which is a lot more audible here than ever before). The rest of the tracks swing between the same high speed assault ("Curse My Funeral" and the title track being particularly vicious) and slower ones more reminiscent of the early demo material given a complete production overhaul ("The Hanged Priest" and "No Mercy For Humans", which is almost groovy). There's also an amusing interlude track, "A Dream", in which M'yancech croaks a spoken-word section over some acoustic guitars, sounding like a demented French narrator from some obscure horror movie.
Overall, this is a different Mütiilation, but still an extremely good one. The guitar playing especially is top-notch, with plenty of standout riffs, and it's probably the first album from this band that you can actually bang your head to. You even get some extremely silly booklet artwork, including M'yanech grimming out in a wheelchair and a fat topless nun amusing herself with a crucifix (albeit done in a much less glamorous manner than another, vastly inferior band has already used on a certain shirt)... I still can't figure out what half the other booklet pictures are meant to be, but I guess that's the intention. Just like the music itself, the pictures are obscure, bleak and somewhat disturbing - just the way it should be. Horns up!
This album is very good, and any fan of black metal should own it.
Wait, you want a bigger review?
Well, the production on this one is pretty clear, and everything sounds like it was directly inputted, bypassing all amps. It was more than likely recorded on an analog recorder, or possibly a really primative digital recorder. The vocals on this are like the last few tracks of "Remains...", a medium-pitched growl that sometimes gets to the point where it sounds like a pig squeeling (not a bad thing, if you are thinking it may be). There are some really drug-induced (if you know anything about the band, the drug is probably heroin) structures on this, and the guitar riffs are mostly minor chords (very depressing and cold). There are a few filler tracks, but nothing major. My favorites on this are the first two tracks and the last bunch of tracks, as they are extremely well-written. There are even some church bells in this!
Overall, very good, and an essential "nowadays" black metal release.
Les Legiones Noires return! After four years of silence and speculation the oldest and greatest of the French Black Legions have returned with one of the finest black metal releases of the year, "Black Millenium". The band is now down to sole member Meyhna'ch (now going by his given name, "Wil Roussel"), and at first it seemed that the essence of the band had changed. A big part of the charm of early Mütiilation was the 'live' feel they had by recording on a 4- or 8-track in the rehearsal room, where you could hear the looseness and the room ambience, but the new album has a crisp, clean, digital-sounding recording quality with a plugged-in direct guitar sound and a drum machine. This put me off at first, but after a minute I noticed how sick it all sounds - almost like Wil didn't even bother trying to tweak sounds. The guitar sounds strangled in faster parts and really fuzzy and 'big' in the slower parts - almost over-distorted in a way. The vocal approach is different too - Wil trades his shrieking for a more grim-croak approach, not unlike the last two tracks from the "Remains..." album.
And the songs themselves - as genius as ever, staying familar while also covering some newer ground. The album opener, "The Eggs of Melancholy", contains the familiar superfast melodic chord strumming and the slower 'drone' sections like earlier Mütiilation, but the second song "New False Prophet" kicks off in a new direction - it starts with a muted single-note riff and eerie processed vocals that builds with some overlaid guitar melodies until it blasts forth with more fast strumming. There is more subtlety present as well, with the occasional layered clean guitars making an appearance (something virtually impossible to do at full volume in a rehearsal room), some chiming bells here and there, and great use of double-tracked processed vocals. A lot more attention has been paid to those kind of subtle touches which adds a lot of depth while keeping it familiar. Other especially noteworthy songs are the trudging, eerie, then blasting "Inferi ira ductus", the atmospheric interlude "A Dream", the suicidally insane "Black as Lead and Death", and "No Mercy for Humans" with its violent declaration of war on those pathetic beings. Only time will tell if this surpasses the godly "Vampires of Black Imperial Blood" or "Remains..." albums, but it certainly at least on the same level - a dark, misanthropic, and amazing masterpiece of black metal.
"I survived time and death to meet you... When all stopped in '96, trends and childish bands were ruling the Black Metal scene and the true old bands were buried under a pile of commercial crap. There was no use to go on as I was sick of the way Black Metal was turning. After 4 lost years of decadence and depression, I'm fed up to see children take my place, so it's time to strike back and spread Evil! The old cult bands should prevail and show to this world they will survive any trend. We have to crush those well thinking pigs who made Black Metal something common and accepted. Who are they to steal our glory?....In the past, I told 'we'll see in a few years who will still be here and who will not'. So you buried me too fast but here I am and I shall stand to make you suffer. May the ancient flame burn again."
- Wil Roussel, 2001.
(Originally published at LARM (c) 2001)