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Mutation was the very first death metal band from Singapore and, along with Abhorer, had a fairly big impact on the extreme metal scene over there at the time. Unfortunately, the band has not stood the test of time and has fallen into obscurity, aside from the mighty Nuclear War Now! Productions releasing their previously unreleased 7” from 1992. Not only is it unfortunate, but is also surprising considering how good this demo is and the band’s historical importance in the Singaporean metal underground.
As for the demo itself, Malignant Existence is a rancid and wretched slice of death metal of the highest order. The production is raw, noisy, and caked in a thick layer of filth. The vocals are pushed to the front of the mix and have a bit of distortion and reverb added to them, but this is not to hide poor vocal abilities (*ahem, Xasthur*), as it is plainly obvious that he has a bowel-bursting, demonic growl that could definitely leave some small children in tears. These effects are just added to make the savage nature of the music even more effective, which is definitely what they have achieved here. If I had to make a comparison, I’d have to give mention to Abhorer’s ‘Rumpus of the Undead’ demo.
The guitar has an extremely thick, noisy tone, somewhat reminiscent of a lot of 80’s/early 90’s Swedish demos from bands such as Gorement and Crematory, but even more repulsive. The riffing itself can also be compared to that of the Swedish scene, but it does stand on its own. They alternate from mid-paced chugs (NOT in a “brutal ‘death metal’” slam-wigger way though), to grinding mayhem, so much to the point that at times you can’t differentiate between the different notes. Like the guitar, the bass also has a filthy tone, and it intertwines with the guitar in a nauseating manner, creating a really thick wall of down-tuned sludgy chaos. And as if the vocals, guitar, and bass weren’t enough of a mess as it is (in a good way, of course), the drums also have a layer of grime thrown on top of them, giving a noisy pulse to this death metal monstrosity.
Out of all the unfortunately short-lived death metal bands that were lost in the depths of obscurity, Mutation is one of the least deserving of it. This demo, as well as the 7”, is mandatory for everyone who likes their death metal old school, filthy and rotten. Highly recommended.