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This album was my first exposure to Mütiilation. One summer night, my band mate arrived outside the radio station, in order to drop off a couple CDs that I was borrowing for my show. With a little time to kill, and a decent air conditioner in his car, I accepted the offer to check out a couple bands. While the others were of no interest to me, whatsoever, this one stood out. From the opening moments of "Suffer the Gestalt", I was drawn deeper into this Hellish recording.
The album begins with inhuman moaning. Sparse drumming leads into very primitive guitar riffs and screams of torture and suffering. This is agony and pure Hell caught on tape. It lasts but three and a half minutes, yet it seems too epic to be so brief. You are compelled to shred your own flesh and to bleed in the candlelight. The screams almost seem as if they are emanating from within your own ruined soul.
"To the Memory of the Dark Countess" begins with simplistic guitar riffs, speeding up a bit with awkward sounding drums, before settling into a mid-paced and mournful Black Metal riff. The guitars are very droning and the vocals are possessed with madness and torture. Torches light the hidden chambers, in the depths of the crumbling castle. Girls are tormented and killed to be drained of their blood for the dark queen to bathe. With this song, one can feel their terror as they await their grisly demise.
The album continues with "Possessed and Immortal". As with the previous song, it is mostly a mid-paced affair. The riffs are pure melancholy and the mournful screams permeate the darkness soul. The scene is one of a solitary spirit, crushed to the black earth, surrounded by empty bottles and dull razors. The light of the candles illuminates the prison-like walls, casting shadows of a miserable creature slicing away at his own skin, painting the room with his own blood. Life has no meaning. To live is to suffer.
"Through the Funeral Maelstrom of Evil" is the longest song on the album and begins with a bit of a faster pace, though still a bit plodding. This song maintains the mournful atmosphere created thus far. The production is pretty terrible, making "Transilvanian Hunger" sound polished. However, it adds to the overall feel. One wonders how the songs would go over with a slightly better production job and with more competent drumming. Then again, that may have caused it to lose some of the grim atmosphere.
"Travels to Sadness, Hate and Depression" begins with an utterly miserable riff. It is slow and very suitable to lead one right into the abyss. One can almost feel the dampened earth as the grave lays open and welcoming. The mournful riffs and tortured vocals cannot be comprehended without actually listening. This is not for the weak and certainly not for those accustomed to newer, so-called suicidal Black Metal bands. This is pure agony and Hell, in recorded form. The dramatic statements made in the liner notes, in 1999, have no effect on these songs. There is no posturing, here. This is absolute misery and hatred captured for the ages. It reaches into your chest and tears at your heart, squeezing until life expires.
The next two songs are from an entirely different recording session, and it's very clear. "The Fear That Freeze" is the first of the newer songs, and it is not nearly as raw as the previous five songs. It's very fast and sounds like a drum machine was used for the recording. The melodies are somewhat reminiscent of Norwegian Black Metal.
The album concludes with "Holocaust in Mourning Dawn (French Version)". This song is not unlike its predecessor, possessing similar sound and pace. The vocals are not nearly as uncontrollable as on the first five tracks, losing some of the feeling. The thrashy riff, early on, reminds one of the songs on the "Hail Satanas We Are the Black Legions" EP.
This is the definitive Mütiilation album. The first five songs are a great example of what this band once was, while the last two songs offer a fair representation of the later albums. If you haven't slashed your veins and bled to death by the time the album has concluded, it would be highly recommended for you to seek out all of the early releases from this band.