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European Vampirism - 90%

we hope you die, February 5th, 2019

Just as for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, so it is that for every Dimmu Borgir, there was a step further towards obscurity almost beyond human comprehension, deep in the bowls of the underground.

France’s Mutiilation is the brainchild of one Meyhna’ch. He was a member of a small group of bands known as Les Legions Noires, France’s answer to the Norwegian black circle. But a heroin addiction saw him eventually ejected from this circle, and whatever benefits that entailed were suspended (I’m assuming some sort of points card that gives you money off fuel had to be handed in). Now, before I go on I must make one thing clear: French black metal is not entry level. Vlad Tepes, Belketre, Black Murder, these artists produced some of the most unlistenable music possible, even by black metal’s incredibly high bar. I tell you this, so that when I say that Mutiilation were one of the more accessible artists of Les Legions Noires, you understand that Mutiilation’s music is still kissing the edge of the sonic abyss.

After a series of demos and EPs came 1995’s LP ‘Vampires of Black Imperial Blood’, something of a cult classic among fans of lo-fi, obscure metal. Yet more EPs and demos followed, leaving fans of the long-form release to wait until 1999 for ‘Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul’. But the wait was well rewarded. There is something about this release that stands out in French black metal, and black metal in general. This is the dawn of depressive black metal. A much maligned subgenre, but if played with conviction it can offer much intrigue.

Drums sound like they are being played underwater, with very simple beats underpinning razor sharp distorted guitars and non-existent bass. The riffs are made up of simple minor scale runs, played either funereally slow or at a more galloping pace. Occasionally they are all but drowned out by vocals of such melodramatic despair that it simply engulfs the entire music in its pained screeches and howls. But this is more than just an over-the-top rumination on existence. The compositions unfold with more maturity than any other Mutiilation release.

They evolve like a simple symphony. Motifs are presented to the listener before the music meanders into a new set of simple but well thought out chord progressions, and then the music returns to the original motif. But the listener sees this original motif in a new light having lived through the whole composition. Context is not a myth. The music that has gone before sheds new light and meaning on the opening riff once it is revisited. This works like poetry. The beginning of a sentence changes meaning based on how it ends. And in a longer form this is how narrative structures work. ROARDCS may be a relatively simple example of this compositional method, but it is still exemplary at what sets out to achieve.

Simple solos or (as I prefer to call them) screeching leads, lend drama and tension to this music from the bowls of human despair. This is not the music of strength, nor of the boundlessness of nature. This is suicidal and depressive black metal at its best. Admittedly the competition in this subgenre is universally weak, but this album’s appeal as a piece of art in its own right should resonate well beyond the obscure rock under which Les Legions Noires resided. Of course, it’s not for everyone, and one could be forgiven for discarding it as worthless noise.

I would sincerely recommend both this album. But with a few caveats. This ain’t entry level black metal. And not because it’s ‘heavier’. But because it is more abrasive in every way. The shitty production, the odd compositional choices, the overbearing vocals. It is not simply harder to get into, it is harder to take seriously. But ‘Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul’, is recognisable as music, so make sure you pass through the likes of Mutiilation before moving on to other Les Legions Noires metal. Xasthur and Leviathan fans may be in for a shock otherwise.

Originally published at Hate Meditations

Emotional drama and Romantic flair galore - 85%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, July 17th, 2012

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.

Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul - 91%

Noctir, October 26th, 2008

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.

Not so Great... - 35%

PutridWind, July 6th, 2008

This an album constantly regarded as Mutiilations best, a black metal classic. To this day I wonder how the fuck this could even be considered average. I swear that there will be so many things that you hear here that remind you of things like wanking on your guitar when the lights are off and you have no idea where the frets are and fucking around on your friends drum kit that it's not even funny. Essentially it's a relieve when the music actually kicks in, but only because the breaks, and "atmospheric intros" suck so much.

The first problem is the playing itself. Saying this is sloppy is the understatement of the century. The guitar tremelo picking is totally random, the drums have about a range of 20 bpm between which the tempo fluctuates, and the bass cannot be heard. There is also the problem that there is the nagging use of just random playing around on the guitar. It seriously sounds like the guy is pressing down on the pick ups and then playing, or plucking the strings behind the nut. What the hell? Is this supposed to be progressive or something? Same goes for the breaks where the drums play randomly with no sense of time as if this drummer learned to play the day before.

Production is also terrible. Guitars sound so dry that I am reminded of the unpleasant image of a body drained of fluid that could crack in half. Drums sound like they were recorded with one mike placed 25 feet away in a box. Vocals are decent, at least they are raw and emotional, but some of the high screams (however hard they might be to do) are flat out grating and annoying. The fact that the vocal eq is extremely treble oriented doesn't help either. It would be fair to say that everything covered so far regarding this album is terrible, so what the hell is the big deal about this album? Well...

I can see that the riffing is decent, but the album is generally revolting. The problem is, who the fuck wants to listen to horrible music? I can understand listening to dissonant music or extremely depressive music to be in a certain state of mind or mood, but you'd have to be stupid if you're willing to listen to terrible music. If this is a landmark of black metal than 1999 was a very sad year for the genre. This music could be made by anyone. It requires no skill, it just takes playing around on a guitar for a bit and making some mediocre riffs and then adding drum parts that don't even fit or play in time half of the time. It's unfair to say that this wasn't a serious attempt, you can hear the potential that band has during some occasions, the riffs aren't half bad if you could imagine them executed well with a decent sound. There are also some nice hints at slower tempo parts where the drums actually trudge along nicely, so not all hope is lost (indeed Mutiilation did release some fairly good works over the years). There are also some references to LLN bands like Moevot with some very disturbing clean vocals that sound very forced and unmelodic. You can also hear the LLN influence on the production. This on par with the production of a Vlad Tepes demo tape.

So now that we have discussed the pitfalls of this music, I'll try to give a less subjective account of what the music sounds like, production and execution aside. It's generally in the vein of old Burzum, ringing arpeggio riffs, basic drumming, very tortured vocals, and relies on the entrancing effect of repetition. The riffing could be your standard depressive black metal song. The only song that really doesn't seem to fit (and is actually an alright song overall) is "The Fear that Freeze". With a faster and more lively tempo and less terrific production, the song is also a lot more aggressive like say Hate Forest or some Darkthrone. The song also includes the rare, and actually a very nice, guitar harmony.The album is generally typified by the three riff styles found in black metal. Ringing arpeggios, mid tempo power chord riffs, and fast tremolo riffs. Pretty average as far as pushing the limits of the genre goes.

Even though there are gleams of hope during the course of the CD, the fact is that this is a very painful 45 minutes overall. Even someone who has listened to Black Metal for years may be revolted at the production values of this CD. In short, I don't recommend this album to anyone. No-one deserves to expect a classic and end up with something like this. There are obviously many who disagree with me on this album (just read almost any other review), but I don;t see anything that makes this music (term used loosely) any good. The drumming is off time, the production is terrible, and the riffs are totally uninspired. Vocals provide some very tortured sounds which may intrigue, but get old very fast.

It doesn't get any better than this. - 100%

LordBelketraya, September 12th, 2006

I got to know about this band and this album through various album review sites and all of the reviews gave this album highest praise. Also the main thing that attracted me was the mention of raw, ultra low production. I had to find a way to get hold of this. Well forget about getting it anywhere except on ebay for 100 dollars minimum, so I downloaded it. Upon hearing the first song 'Suffer The Gestalt' I felt a chill down my spine, the hairs on my arms stand up and butterflies in my stomach all at once, if that's possible. His high pitched screams of pain reminded me of Burzum but with even worse production. Every song in here is a winner, 'To The Memory Of The Dark Countess' has a hypnotic, yet catchy riff that was used also on 'Eternal Empire Of Majesty Death' from the 'Vampires Of Black Imperial Blood' album and 'Melancholy Of Evil Souls' song from the side project 'Satanicum Tenebrae'. The first five songs are from an aborted album in 1993 called 'Evil, The Gestalt Of Abomination' and the last two are from perhaps the 'Vampires...' sessions in 1995.

But one thing that no one mentions is that the last song 'Holocaust In Mourning Dawn (French Version)' was re-recorded because Meyhna'ch didn't get along anymore with previous drummer Krissagrazabeth so he left, but not without having done vocals on that song from the 'Evil' sessions. This song was left out of the 'Remains...' release but can be found in the compilation/rarities album 'Ten Year's Of Depressive Destruction 1992-2002'. That song is titled 'Holocaust In Mourning Dawn (drummer on vocals)' and has the same production as the 1993 sessions from the first 5 songs on 'Remains...'. This in my mind is superior to the 1995 re-recorded version.

The production sounds like it was recorded in an underground hallway, very echo-ey and hollow sounding. Almost has a 'live' feel to it, the last 2 have a more polished, less echo vibe to them and falls slightly short but enjoyable nonetheless. This album was mainly recorded when they were still a 3-piece until the last two when it was perhaps Meyhna'ch and Mordred. The new Mutiilation needs to go to back to this type of production and band members to do drumming and bass duties if we are the ever hear stuff like this again
It will be difficult for Meyhna'ch to ever reproduce the magic and evil constructed on this excellent piece of work. For now, we always have this and 'Vampires...' to remind us of what black metal excellence sounds like.

the gestalt of abomination - 94%

Krazumpath, July 14th, 2006

This is definitely one of the most deranged, non-convential, odd and eerie albums I've heard. The general sound and structure of songs is mismatched, demented and terrifying. The intro begins with low-toned chanting and a simple drum beat. Some faint sounds of the guitar crackle in the background. The chant howls into a scream and the off-key, distorted shit-sounding guitars sweep over. A simple down-stroked riff and drum beat follow, with horrific torture screams. A minor sounding palm muted riff follows with some completely off-tune tapping. This returns to the previous riff with more torture screams and continues, back to a strange tapping solo of unstructured dementia. The song fades out with some feed back and gurgling sounds.

The rest of the album makes much use of tremolo picked, minor sounding riffs, a great deal of torture screams, and simple drums (though they sometimes slip into slight complexity for fills). Some of the riffs are rake-picked, eerie and broken sounding breakdowns. These are used for transitional phases. Some riffs are downstroked extended chords with the drums played at the same pace or hitting crashes to accent them. On occasion palm mutes are used. These are most often used with very minor-sounding riffs, and mostly downstroked and mid paced. The alterations in minor-sounding chords cause the palm muted riffs to have a particularly depressing feel. There is a lot of feedback, and the distortion crackles and hisses in between riffs or while one guitar is breifly not playing. The drums are for the most part simple beats. Some mid-paced single kick blasts, galloping double kicks, steady double kick, or tom variations are used. The fills are relatively basic, but sometimes use more complex quick techniques. The sound of the drums is very flat, poorly recorded, and not booming or popping. The cymbals crack and crash harshly. There are some more chants appearing, sounding very dismal and monotonous. There are a few clean acoustic parts in between, which are mostly rake-picked minor-sounding chords, which lead into the same riff being played with distortion. The two track which were not a part of the original "Evil: The Gestalt of the Abomination" are more similar to the sound on "Vampires...", but with quieter sound production. These do not necessarily fit, and aren't really considered a part of the album to me, merely bonus tracks.

The general feel of the album is very depressive and bleak, but rough and poorly produced, and often oddly structured and strange, giving it an eerie quality. It is very harsh and uncompromising. Those uninterested in "raw" or "depressive" sounds, or those who think low sound production is a farce would certainly not enjoy this. Those who appreciate rawness as a quality of good black metal, and oddity as an interesting aspect would more likely appreciate this album. This is my personal favourite of Mutiilation.

emotions - 95%

TheStormIRide, January 24th, 2006

Typical thin old black metal production. Tortured vocals, the kind with the high pitched squeal sound.... except for "Suffer the Gestalt" which contains some throatier growls (but that songs lends itself to an introduction to the album). Much of this album is not typical old school black metal though. There is so much melody hidden in the distorted guitars. A Very chilling listen. Now, don't get me wrong, the band can punch out the speed at need, but the highlight of this album is the melody versus antimelody that is used so well.
Listening to the opener will give the listener an impression of what this band is trying to get through: hate; malice; despair; sorrow. This is more, for this reviewer, an emotional album than a musical album. The emotions are so strong throughout the entire release, that they force the listener into a certain state of mind; something few bands capitalize on. The guitars take the side of despair and sorrow, the tone and chord patterns help one to visualize the torment. The vocals and drums force rage and hate and malice upon the listener almost to overwhelming highs (or lows depending on how you look at it).
By saying this is an emotional album in no way takes away form the overall enormity of this release. The music perfectly fits together. The atmosphere is unreal. This release is not intended for the weak at heart. By combining all of the emotions and music into one ball of greater energy, this release is one of the best black metal has seen (or will see) in years to come.

very haunting, very disturbing - 100%

namelessheretic, January 16th, 2006

Production: Basement.

Despair. Hate. Rage. Depression. All these emotions reach their peak in this release; accomplished through amazing understanding of how to use music to capture said emotions. The Romantics of yesteryear would be proud.

High end brash distorted guitars dominate and set the tone; literally bringing to life the most anguished depths of human feelings. Even those with little or no imagination, or sense of aesthetics, will instantly recognize what exactly is being stated here; the music is that direct and pronounced, and the guitar work cannot be understated here. It's execution of dark, depressive melody provokes the listener's deepest sorrows and brings them to the front of consciousness.

Vocals add another texture of tone; feeding off of, and adding to, the tortured anguish of this masterpiece. Whatever mood the guitar sets, the vocals take that cue and force the emotional extremes to the limit.

The drums are brutalized; what the drummer lacks in skill he makes up for in force; beating the life out of them when needed. Drumming here is not all about annihilation though, as the more depressive moods are backed with subtle, heartbeat-like beats.

The production is awful, and thankfully so. The non-production allows the air to be filled with the desperate, or hate filled, emotions; the guitar crackles with energy that would be suffocated in a more produced recording. Vocals are able to distort more so as well; fitting for the aesthetic achieved here.

My music collection may be dwarfed in comparison to other metal lovers, but this is one of the best black metal albums I have ever heard.

Truly immortal - 99%

cinedracusio, October 26th, 2005

This is one of the most acclaimed French black metal works, and it is still not acclaimed enough, because Meyh'Nach did one of the most romantic, desperate and bleak masterpieces that the world had.
The beginning, Suffer The Gestalt, did not hook me very much, probably because the following tracks are the true neverending realm of darkness. It is made of a simple depressive riff, mixed with screams and occasional random guitar bursts. To The Memory Of The Dark Countess starts with an horrifyingly simple riff, only two notes, but one of the best riffs that ever existed in black metal, continuing in the same mournful atmosphere. However, Possessed And Immortal is the best track of this album, an excellent epic of darkness with riffs that are varied enough to keep you hypnotised.
The foggy production helped also very much in defining the album, the riffs are almost ethereal, and they do a lethal mix with Meyh'Nach's vocals. By the way, Meyh'Nach was in great form: the vocals are high-pitched and necrotic, and Meyh'Nach occasionally drops a massive low-end death growl. The percussion is very simple, Burzumesque, no Marduk bloodshed here, but anyway not super-doom Nortt style, it is mid-paced and with a bizarre unique sound. The clean guitar interlude, one of Mutiilation's assets, did a fantastic job on Maelstrom Of Evil.
Hails to Meyh'Nach for this masterpiece (and fucks for the masterpieces that followed).

Worthy - 82%

Thamuz, August 28th, 2004

Minimilistic, dark, misanthropic and plain nasty. That is the style of Black Metal Mutiilation play. This album is both tortured and melancholic. This depressing and dark atmosphere, is provided by the 'garage' quality production and the over-whelming dissonance in the instrumentation, combined with the deft and subtle song-writing.

The guitars - and also the instruments collectively - are quite simple, and the effective use of melodic tremolo riffs entwined with slower sequences blends in nicely under the 'buzzing' distortion. The tempo of this release could not be described as an overt speed frenzy, instead concurrent with alternating between a mid paced tempo and slower more drone-like paces. The often repetitive riff structures assist in giving a desolate feel with their meandering and depressive melodies, as they drift in and out of interchangeable song sections. This gives a sound that is soothing to the mind, in the way that it doesn't hit you in face, rather drawing you into the piece with it's soulful composition.

The drumming is quite repetitive and doesn't in essence add much to the music other than pummelling along and remaining free of the over use of blast beats, giving an effect that does not degrade the effect given by the guitar. At times it does sound like incessent banging due to the poor production quality, and this can get a bit tedious.

The bass is buried deep in the mix, and is too muddy to be audible to the ear, thus we cannot really comment on whether it is effective or not.

The vocals aren't anything out of the ordinary, just the standard shriek that does little to stand out from the field. But, this can be viewed as irrelevent and the unoriginality does little to taint the lugubrious nature of the music. And this is all that really matters when discerning the worthiness of the final product.

Overall, this is quite a good release and is testament to the cult status that Mutiilation has received in the past. Essentially, nothing stands out as a single highpoint in this album. As with most quality Black Metal, it is best viewed as an entire package, and is recommending to listeners who strive to find music of a depressive and misanthropic nature.


Hellegion, February 10th, 2003

This is the best black metal album I have ever heard from the French, and one of the top 10 best ever, for sure. It has very primative (yet clear) production, the guitars sound like they are being picked with razorblades, and the vocals have a possible slight hint of distortion (maybe because of the shitty mic they used?), and are high pitched, and occasionally he lets out a low growl. High vocals usually sound really fucking bad (example: parts of the Weltmacht CD, the high parts of the Absurd- Werwolfthron CD), but not these. This guy can shriek with the best of them. The pace is usually pretty slow and there are no blast beats (a lot of double kick on some tracks, though), and the guitar riffs are laced with depressing minor chords and really rememorable riffs. Occasionally, they break into a clean guitar part that helps set the atmosphere.

Now, the last two tracks on here are quite a bit different than the rest of it (a different session). The vocals on this one are growled, much like they are on Black Millenium (overall, these tracks remind me of Black Millenium, actually). They have the same guitar style (but a much weaker sound), and a VERY different production sound (basically, it is absent of production). A drum machine blasts out a bunch of double kicking and blast beats, and a keyboard does some REALLY creepy shit far back in the background. These tracks are HAUNTING. The last track, though, I usually skip totally; it sounds horrible because of the production. I am not talking Ildjarn-terrible, I mean Ildjarn, if it were played while you fell from an airplane while playing Ildjarn through a $10 2 watt stereo.