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Originally meant to be Mutiilation's first album but the label that was supposed to issue it turned out flaky, "Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul" is a very punky, thrashy affair that showcases Willy Roussel's eccentric and screechy take on early 1990s black metal. After a slow start in which Roussel is suffering a massive hangover from the misdeeds committed the previous night, he sobers up for "To the Memory of the Dark Countess" and attempts to belt out some actual lyrics in time to waspishly raw guitars and drums with floppy skins. The quality of the sound is sharp and actually quite good, given that the production was of basement-level standard. Dedicated to the Countess Erzsebet Bathory herself (and perhaps by implication to the band Bathory), the meandering song features some striking melodies and riffs and surprisingly pained and anguished screaming.
"Possessed and Immortal" continues in a similar melodic and emotionally wrought style with a choppy rhythm in parts. It mooches along for over five minutes before it becomes completely nutsoid with Roussel raging and screaming at life's injustices. The songs generally err on the melodramatic, even histrionic side with their melodies and riffs but the sadness, despair and hatred for people obsessed with shallow values and material goals while the world is crashing because of their short-sighted stupidity and failure to understand the impact of what they're doing, can be felt deeply and intensely in each and every track. "Travels to Sadness, Hate & Depression" includes anger and frustration along with the existential anguish.
The last two tracks sound like very early pieces and are of a completely different mood and bent. There's a patina of old 1920s European expressionist art movies over these songs. The singing is less emotional and pained and more sinister and scheming; frankly at times it sounds a bit campy with drunken drooling vocals and strangled screams. "The Fear that Freeze" is fairly basic in structure compared to the five tracks that preceded it and the same can be said for "Holocaust in Mourning Dawn". The style of black metal is raw to the extent that the guitars often sound like hailstorms of noise.
Not quite as tragically majestic and flamboyant as the later "Vampires of Black Imperial Blood" but certainly a good forerunner to that album, this would-be debut recording has plenty of emotional drama and a Romantic flair that helped to define the future trajectory of French black metal in the 1990s. Mutiilation never quite lived up to the potential that this and "Vampires ..." promised and became something of a joke. These two early albums as a group are something to be treasured.