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Easy listening - 55%

gk4fv3sz, April 1st, 2013

I read the group had had a black metal history. Perhaps it's good they got converted and put efforts into something that smells and tastes like music to me. Being a thrash fan, I do find something for myself in this stuff. But still, "Rat Age" is an album that seems to be a foreword to something much better (the next album "Anshur-Za").

Both of them are created to tell about the hardships of life in a future world ruled by one evil and corrupted corporation. It looks like "Rat Age" is a sort of a concept album, and each song has its proper place in the whole made-up story. The lyrics are techno-apocalyptic, morally oriented lines of futurist wisdom. Although, the songwritng techniques used are rather poor or the English translation did not really convey the ideas intended.

As for the music itself, the guitar parts are thoughtfully composed, well-arranged and with a taste of mature thrash in them. The drums are precise and neatly played with quite complicated breaks at places. The bass guitar gets hidden somewhere in between the drums and the guitars. The vocal performance is a little bit better than a simple OK; far from a black metal shrieking and even further from a death metal growling. The keyboards are fun, but, as for me, completely unnecessary in many places.

The best part of the album comes somewhere in the middle of it. All tracks are equipped with electronic keyboard intros and outros, which are not much of a help. You just get distracted by them. "Antidote" starts with a curious keyboard intro as well, but it shouldn't be left off this time. (It appears to be an integral part of the whole piece.) The track itself is probably the best in the whole album. At least, this stuff sounds like a decently played piece of metal. "Life Form" is another track giving us good, as opposed to very good, metal. The chorus part might attract your attention for a while. The riff at 2:30 feels like a very good thrashing, but then it goes back to the same slightly good stuff. In "Syndicate" and "Enemies" the industrial parts sound nice for a while, then the music smells of Morbid Angel from their recent albums, but still it's worse. There are three (way too many) instrumental tracks committed to this album and I presume they were supposed to be an atmospheric break to the metal, the outcome being just too boring. The title track "Rat Age" begins like a Depeche Mode song (nice tune), then becomes steadily heavier and heavier, the guitars well interleaved with the e-sounds. Yet a faster and more aggressive attitude would do the track much good, it seems. Finally, a very bad idea happens to finish the album leaving the listener in an unpleasant catatonic-like mood. The track is called "Unity" (I wonder with what) and throws techno stuff at you at the beginning, and then in the middle, and at the end there too. The whole song is built around the same techno beat getting you bored.

Summing up, this album makes up a good piece of listening for extensive rather than intensive reception.