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Released in January 2005 on Ordealis, Rattenkönig is the fourth full-length album from Mütiilation, arriving about a decade after the band's debut record. Limited to 2000 copies, this album maintains the dark and mournful style of Black Metal that Meyhna'ch had become known for, despite the number of changes since the early years. Though it possesses several of the same flaws that plagued the previous record, it comes off as a much more solid and consistent effort, overall.
It was during a particularly bleak period of my existence that I first gave this album a real chance, along with Majestas Leprosus, and this was the one that appealed to me the most. While it does not compare to the older material, it still seemed like an improvement as far as the later stuff was concerned. There is no real epic sense of going on a journey through Hell or anything of that nature. Instead, the entirety of this record is like the death throes of a being that is simply wallowing at the depths of suffering, with no sense of hope. Meyhna'ch does well the create an utterly miserable record that feeds the negativity and anguish of the listener and even encourages the spilling of blood in the nocturnal hours.
The production is very similar to the previous record, in that it sounds quite lifeless and sterile, due to the horrible production and the drum programming. The guitars sound a little lower in the mix, which is definitely a bad thing. The guitar riffs are always supposed to be the primary focus and, in a situation like this, should not be de-emphasized. There is no rawness to the sound, at all, though it is not polished by any means. The drums are just as terrible as on the last album, and the poor choices in mixing result in this aspect being even more noticeable, at times. Meyhna'ch also continues using the electronic effects and some samples, possibly as a feeble attempt to add an eerie feeling to the music. It sounds more out of place than anything, and detracts from the general atmosphere.
The songwriting succeeds in coming off as more cohesive than that of Majestas Leprosus, and the album flows better, sounding as if more thought went into the arrangement of each track. Rather than containing a few good songs and then a handful of throw-away tracks, Rattenkönig is more consistent than its predecessor. That being said, songs like "That Night When I Died" and "The Bitter Taste of Emotional Void" are certainly the most dismal and memorable of the whole album. Nonetheless, even these highlights display a level of potential that goes unrealized, as the production renders the guitars much less effective than they should be and allows the vocals to force the material along more than any other single element. The vocal performance does offer more variety and shows more effort than the last couple of albums, but it is a shame that the guitar melodies are relegated to backing noise, due to the horrid mix.
Rattenkönig is a solid album, though it represents even more of a disconnect with the old days. Whereas the last record still contained a few ideas that hearkened back to the band's classic period, Mütiilation had certainly evolved into something else by this point. This is not a release for someone just getting into the band, nor is it an album that is likely to appeal to anyone seeking a sound similar to the demos or other early releases. Nonetheless, it offers the same type of melancholic Black Metal that Meyhna'ch spent so many years cultivating and is worth a listen if you are able to get past the atrocious production.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com
Now I have to rewrite my old review because it was quite embarassing regarding structure, grammar and content. Also my impression of the album was incorrect. The grade has been decreased from 97/100 to 80/100.
Rattenkonig is one of these few peculiar albums which you forgive holes in production, resources or even skills. Entire recording is apparently clear and it seems that it was produced with more care then their previous albums but it still sounds very harmless. It is rather underproduced than raw which is not a good thing. Guitars aren't harsh but like filtered through C-64, whereas drums are programmed and flat.
On the other hand, the album has some real highlights which compensate the loss. Meyhnach came up with quite a few really good riffs, some interesting vocal effects and surprising twists of tension/mood. This album, however, should be listened with focus upon the lyrical content. Meyhnach is surely a fucked up artist, hopefully not a rat. He has always been capable of writing good lyrics and did not fail this time. They are some tough and honest reflections. With focus upon the lyric even the worse parts of music sounds considerably fitting.
Overall, the feelings of emptiness and hopelessness prevail in this album. The sound is quite soft, lack of roughness makes it a bit like an experimental piece but it is able to play on one's mind quite well. Weird riffs have a spark of more modern/cyberpunk vampirism in them and the lyrics are really depressive. Recommended only for maniacs. (Firstly published on Metal Archives early 2005).
Mütiilation's latest album "Rattenkonig" is one of the better releases by Meyhna'ch in some time. While not comparing with the brilliance of Vampires of Black Imperial Blood or Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul this album is a very dark collection of compositions that will amaze you.
Rattenkonig continues with Meyhna'ch's use of the drum machine but this time the drum programming works well enough for the release. It can get annoying at times but it's done much better on this release than some of the other Mutiilation releases in recent years with the use of the drum machine. The guitars are purely dark and melancholic, a return to the older releases, but with a much deeper atmosphere and production to them (Since remains and vampires seem either to be mixed with very little bass or very distant sounding). This is truely one of the better releases coming from Meyhna'ch in a long time.
If you can find this release be sure to get hold of it right away. It's much better than majestas leprosus and possibly you could say even better than Black Millenium (Grimly Reborn). You won't find disappointment with this new blasphemy from the depths of this sombre soul.
The lone surviving band and the most known (alongside Vlad Tepes, Belketre) of the much underrated Les Legions Noires and in my opinion the best and "truest" black metal scene in the world has put out another album in this millenium. I'm a big Mutiilation fan so it's going to be tough to be objective but I didn't like everything this band has put out. This one is different for me. I put this in my list of Mutiilation releases that has pleased me. First off, the guitars are not loud in the mix like the previous album 'Majestas Leprosus' and the riffs are good. Production-wise its clean (at least by LLN standards) but not polished. Meyhna'ch's voice is a low growl which fits the music on this album well as opposed to his majestic screaming on 'Remains Of A Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul' which I wish he could bring back again, perhaps on the next album.
I suppose the best way to describe Rattenkonig is that the songs all seems to blend together well, nothing sounds terribly different. But don't take this the wrong way, the songs are good and will warrant repeated listens. My standout tracks would be 'That Night When I Died', 'The Ecstatic Spiral To Hell' and 'I, Satan's Carrion'. The electronic "sounds" put in the beginning of certain songs does put an eerie atmosphere to it and adds to the overall quality of the album. I suppose my one complaint would be that the drums don't stand out and it would've helped having a real drummer do the duties here. Otherwise the production is no problem for me even though its not like other LLN bands or early Mutiilation albums which seemed to use sewers for a recording studio, not that it was a bad thing =).
I can't describe how I felt when I heard this album. I believe I was overwhelmed by it in a sense. Musically, it is far more superior than the two previous full lengths, but the vocals are HORRENDOUS.
In particular, track five, "The Pact (The Eye of the Jackal)" has this interesting electronic vocal effect. It sounds nothing like the effect used on such songs as "New False Prophet" or the remake of "Destroy Your Life For Satan." This one is far worse and is carried on for most of the song. Overall, the vocal quality is weak. It almost feels so completely emotionless.
Musically, the album holds over quite well. The riffs are just as simplistic as all of the other releases, but they develop the mood of the album. The drum machine that we have all grown to love and/or hate is ever-present on this release as well. It sounds like it needed to be pushed back into the mix further. Other than that, it's pretty good.
Ultimately, this IS a good release, but the vocals and drum machine hold it back. I recommend old and new fans alike to pick this release up. Old fans will get something out of it that "Black Millenium" and "Majestas Leprosus" couldn't give them, and new fans can get off to a better introduction than the past two releases.