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Released in September 2007 by End All Life, Sorrow Galaxies is the fifth and final full-length album from Mütiilation. This record maintains the sense of gloom that has characterized most of Meyhna'ch's work, yet it represents a departure from the band's established sound, in some ways. It improves upon some of the flaws of the previous few albums and comes off as Mütiilation's most ambitious effort in quite some time. Since the band was laid to rest over two years later, it is not exactly clear as to whether or not this was planned to be the final chapter, but it is somehow fitting, nonetheless.
The first thing that listeners might notice is the presence of a real drummer, which makes all the difference in the world. The music takes on a more natural, organic feeling, and this also allows the riffs to break free of the rigid patterns that have restricted their movement for the last several albums, possibly having something to do with the more epic and expansive sound of Sorrow Galaxies. It is a shame that it took so long to take care of this issue, but one can at least appreciate that the problem was finally rectified. The result is an album that stands a far better chance of being taken seriously, possessing a more genuine feel.
Oddly, the cover art seems to have more in common with the preceding records, which included strange electronic effects that gave a rather spacey quality to the music, at times. Thankfully, this horrid experimentation is at a minimum here, and is almost completely non-existent. While there are some samples used, it never gets to the point where it compromises the atmosphere of the music and is done in a less-invasive manner. One gets the impression that Meyhna'ch had a checklist of mistakes that he was attempting to avoid repeating.
Another improvement is the guitar tone and the fact that the guitars are, once again, more prominent in the mix. The riffs are more powerful and manage to better convey the intended feeling, with the mournful and icy riffs washing over you and immersing you in total darkness. One of the main complaints regarding Rattenkönig was that the guitars were too low and ineffective, leaving the vocals as the main driving force of the songs.
Speaking of the vocals, the previous album displayed a little more variation and hearkened back to some of the techniques utilized in years past, but here Meyhna'ch sounds a bit more monotone. Not only is his performance kind of flat, but his voice sounds deeper than usual, as well. This is a stark contrast to the wretched screams of Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul. The sound is much more lifeless and devoid of emotion, as if he has shed all but the tiniest remnants of his humanity. In a sense, it suits the music, which is also colder and less overtly melancholic, while still being dismal.
Musically, Sorrow Galaxies is far less one-dimensional than might have been expected. Largely due to the improvements that have been made, the music is able to breathe and to more freely explore the shadows of misery and hatred. The tempos are much more varied, with slower doom-inspired sections being worked into the morbid tapestry of suffering that is on display, here. Songs like "Cosmic Seeds of Anger & Dementia" pick up from where the final song of the previous album left off, utilizing the sombre thrash riffs that Mütiilation has long been known for and blending them with mournful tremolo melodies and the more bleak and funereal riffs that crawl along at the pace of death. The faster riffs strike as being reminiscent of the band's past works, such as Vampires of Black Imperial Blood, maintaining a sense of continuity. This is also true of the tremolo melodies featured in "The Coffin of Lost Innocence", which evoke sorrow and despondency. "Cesium Syndrome 86" may sound the closest to the older material, which is refreshing in a way since the previous record offered very few ideas that possessed any connection to the band's past, other than the overall mood in general. It is also the most straightforward track on the album, though not one-dimensional by any means. The final track, "Acceptance of My Decay", seems to tie everything together, employing riffs that sort of correspond to ideas expressed earlier in the album, while elaborating on the themes of hopelessness and torment that permeate much of the material.
Sorrow Galaxies is, undoubtedly, the strongest Mütiilation album in many years, with each song coming across as strong and purposeful and all working together toward a common goal. The musical ideas that are expressed uphold sense of coherence that was not always present on the last few records. The songs are more epic and the arrangements are carefully thought-out, with each piece realizing its full potential. This release comes recommended and should satisfy any fan that has been disappointed with various aspects of Mütiilation's recent output. With this album, Meyhna'ch made his final statement and put an end to a musical entity that had existed for nearly two decades and faded back into obscurity.
"Hope is dead... healing will never come"
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com
Mutiilation were once amongst the elites of black metal. "Vampires of Black Imperial Blood" and "Remains of a Lost, Cursed and Dead Soul" are top echelon material. They are relentlessly nihilistic, dwelling in the darkest, most violent dimensions of human existence. The production is extremely raw, the vocals painfully shrill. However, what make the albums so amazing are phenomenal melodies. The riffs are sweeping, dramatic and catchy. The consequence is music dark enough to authentically disturb listeners, but engaging enough to draw them back for countless listens.
"Sorrow Galaxies" has absolutely none of the above mentioned qualities. It is an album devoid of all energy, innovation and originality. To begin, the riffs just don't have a lot of power. There is just an endless series of run of the mill black metal riffs, void of any originality. The playing only exasperates the situation. There is just no effort or passion put into the performance. The same goes for the vocals. Anyone who has ever been to a child's piano recital knows how monotonous it can be to listen to an uninspired musical performance. Meyhna'ch's performance makes one wonder if his parents are forcing him to play black metal, because he really doesn’t sound into it.
The production makes the situation even worse. The production isn't raw so much as it is muddy. Sometimes this works, typically when a band is going for an eerie, otherworldly aesthetic, but here it only manages to the blunt the emotion of the riffs. Considering the emotions weren't exactly sharp to begin with, this is not a good thing. The culminating experience is about as moving as being threatened with a butter knife by geriatric.
Finally, the songwriting is just a mess. There is no structure and no direction. The songs just flounder aimlessly for 10-12 minutes. None of the songs stand out from one another because each song equally lacks identity and creativity. The overall experience is neither dark nor eerie—it’s just boring.
In sum, Mutiilation were a great band in the 90's that pushed black metal to its nihilistic limits. Meyhna'ch's attempt to resurrect the band is absolutely underwhelming. Dull, plodding and uninspired, "Sorrow Galaxies" does not deserve the namesake of Mutiilation. Stick to "Remains..." and "Vampires..." and ignore their tepid "resurrection".
The sole remaining band of the French Black Legions, Mutiilation, continues to ply its own hard-hitting black metal trade with several albums released in recent years including "Sorrow Galaxies". The style of music is at once melodic yet militaristic with fast pummelling drums and equally fast tremolo guitars going at once. I did have to listen to this recording a few times before I picked up the melodic aspect because the music can be very dense as if every note in every song played by Willy Roussel aka Meyhnach has been tightly accordioned up every other note in a squeezed-up package which then stays that way, with a only a few short passages in each song where the music relaxes a bit. All four songs on "Sorrow Galaxies" by the way are about 9 - 12 minutes long and have many twists and turns with corresponding changes in rhythm, pace and drama so when listeners first hear the album they can find it hard to distinguish one song from another. First-timers can try listening to the album as one work with four chapters (though it's not a concept album) and get accustomed to the style and flow of the music; it sounds nothing like what Mutiilation did in the early 1990's but after you hear the album a few times you realise there are similarities between early and current Mutiilation in the way Meyhnach may sing and in the song-writing itself.
The printed lyrics of all four songs have a stream-of-consciousness look and reveal self-loathing and a cynical and bitter attitude to life. Meyhnach's gloomy vocals are very thin and distant to the point of being spidery which makes them difficult to follow what he's singing even with the printed lyrics before you.
Best songs here are "The coffin of lost innocence" which has almost danceable riffs in parts and "Cesium syndrome 86" which can sound quite rock'n'roll in some passages, especially those bits with spoken word samples. This song in particular reveals Meyhnach's interest in apocalytpic science fiction themes. All songs have live drumming which is especially obvious on "Acceptance of my decay" where in most parts the drummer seems to be hitting solid surfaces with the sticks! A waltzing section complete with beeping guitar keeping time with the rhythm appears in the track as well - proof that after all these years Meyhnach still has a sense of humour intact.
The Mutiilation of today may not have all the over-the-top flair of its old LLN days but Meyhnach can still play BM with a lot of drama and emotion. If you think current Mutiilation is all just no-nonsense fast BM, you need to listen quite closely to the music here because there are still some moments of clownishness where strange alien voices intrude from outer space deep in the album's production and sometimes when you least expect it the music can go quite swanky and waltz-like.
I guess Willy have heard our screams after all. I'm a big Mutiilation fan and I think we all have expressed our desire to hear Meyhna'ch employ a real drummer for his next release and he finally did. It's also interesting how the songs are much longer this time. Before this album Mutiilation only had one song that broke the 10 minute mark (Magical Shadows Of A Tragic Past) on 'Vampires...'. On Sorrow Galaxies three of the four songs all pass the 10 minute mark and the one song that doesn't is still 09 minutes and 28 seconds.
If you're a long time fan like myself you're quietly hoping to hear the raw, hallway production of the 'Remains...' and 'Vampires...' era releases, as well as the rest of 90's output altogether, but to no avail. I guess those days are gone forever. The production is pretty much the same as on 'Rattenkonig' or 'Black Millenium (Grimly Reborn)'. Difference being the songs are longer and they have the use of real drums. I do notice an abundance of catchy guitar riffs and memorable melodies this time around which already makes this better than anything after 'Black Millenium'.
If I had to compare the direction Mutiilation seem to have taken in the past 10 years I would compare it to Deathspell Omega in that they also had a raw sound in their earlier releases and then changed to a cleaner production with longer tracks and a more elaborate way or writing songs, a bit more complex. Either way it's an improvement for Mutiilation and their best since 2001's Black Millenium. Meyhna'ch still hasn't lost his edge when most bands after certain period of time tend to go soft or mainstream. You can't go wrong with this band if you want to hear sick, true underground black metal. Just don't expect it to sound like their 90's material. Once again Mutiilation have released another sickly sweet disease upon humanity.
At last the new Mutiilation is finally out. But the thing is, I don't think anyone even knew this was out yet, or even close to being ready. No promotion, no hype, no nothing, just one day word appeared on some forums and that's it. Well no matter, because the music is still really good and everything you've come to expect from Mutiilation is here. There is one new factor though which hasn't been seen since the Remains album and that is REAL DRUMS. Yes, there is a human drummer playing on here, instead of the lame drum machine. Who is playing them is a mystery, but what I do know is that they sound much, much better than the drums on the last three albums. A complete breath of fresh air. Actually, as I listen to this at this very moment, the whole thing feels completely fresh.
We can hear that Willy's playing style has stayed the same, his guitar playing being definitvely Meyhnach. His vocals are also relatively the same as they've been since Black Millenium, maybe slightly deeper if anything. The guitar tone is the same as its been since BM and the bass can be heard often like in Majestas Leprosus. Another reason I say it all feels new is because there are only four songs, but each one clock in at 9-12 minutes each, something Mutiilation only did with the song Magical Shadows... off the first album. They also all feel very epic, with some "spacey" elements appearing occasionally, lending themselves to the album cover and general concept of this album, but it is definately not a concept album per se. Sound clips also appear in a few of the songs for brief moments and there is also some spoken word at the beginning of the first song. The songs are also pretty catchy, with a few of the songs even having a few thrashy parts incorporated into them
As mentioned before, I can't express how good it is to have real drums back. The drums are doing a helluva lot more than they were on the past three albums. There are a decent number of fills on the songs and they are played very tight with the music. They can also be heard a lot better and are not confined to be background static anymore. The blast beat parts, which there seem to be a little less of, are not nearly as fast as they were when the drums were programmed, which to me is a good thing. I don't want to hear insane 400 BPM or whatever drums. Good decision on Willy's part indeed.
As for favorite songs, I can't really say, because I just got this today so I'm still in that process of picking out everything that each of the four songs have to offer, but as of now my favorite would be The Coffin of Lost Innocence. It has some really great melodys. All in all the album is definately a huge step up from Rattenkonig and the last three in general. Hopefully Willy will maintain this for the next albums. Recommended.