Band: Rat King
Title: Vicious Inhumanity
Label: Within The Mind Records
Release Date: 17 January 2020
Format Reviewed: Digital Download
When you see a band with the name RAT KING, with an album cover as delightfully grotesque and nightmarish as their artwork for this their latest record “Vicious Inhumanity” is, you might expect that you’re going to find some gruesome, dirty, sludgy, noisy nastiness inside. And in this instance, your expectations would be well placed. Seattle’s RAT KING has been around for a few years and this their second album (following on from 2016’s “Garbage Island”) is a putrid concoction of furious Death Metal riffing and Grindcore madness. Defining their music on their own bio as an Experimental Death/ Grind band, I would add that I hear Hardcore elements in the ferocious battery, although I suppose that’s kind of an implicit part of Grindcore in general. Basically, this music is going to rip your face off. So bring some Dettol and tissue.
Opening with a supremely overdriven wailing guitar line, the first bars of first track “Matanza” are a tantalizing scene setup as the wandering bass and clamoring drums join in and you think to yourself “hmmm this is interesting, I wonder where this is going to go”… and where it goes is a fast, furious, roaring assault, akin to some early SLAYER. Very often throughout this record, I hear nods to prime Death Metal from the 90s (with a touch of Thrash too), but I don’t want to imply that this music is just a retro homage. The band plays hard and tight, but crucially they play inventively. So while you may hear many a familiar reference point, the influences are all absorbed into the gut of a great, new, stinking monster of a record.
On tracks like “Borratanico” and “Chaleco De Billetes” the band belches out a furious procession of brutal riffing at breakneck speeds. It’s a general gripe I often have with Death Metal bands that they drummers resort to mindless bass-pedaling, RAT KING, in contrast, are a perfect demonstration of how varied drum patterns add impact. In this sense, the blending of Grindcore’s versatility, with Death Metal brutality really comes together in an appealing way (if you find the auditory equivalent of a rotting carcass belching up a festering cloud of putrid gas appealing. Sign me up!).
Another appealing feature of “Vicious Inhumanity” is the balanced prominence afforded to the bass, guitar, and drums. In addition to some interesting, fluid bass lines springing up throughout the album “In Quiet Sleep” has a very cool overdriven, bass intro, alongside some funky, stripped back drums, that acts as a welcome shift of feel coming midway through the album, before the band launches into another inventive aural assault.
Vocal duties are shared by Daniel and Ricardo Racines (brothers?) on bass and guitar respectively, and to give a sense of the tone, there are often hints of CANNIBAL CORPSE in the delivery, though the vocals on show definitely carve out their own little gruesome path for themselves.
The intermittent wailing guitar lines add an interesting texture to the blend of sounds on this record and on final track “Rotting From Inside” I also hear what could be a nod to “The Word As Law” era NEUROSIS in the wondering bassline that flows beneath it. Unlike with some Grindcore, where listeners might be put off by too many sudden jumps between riffs, RAT KING isn’t against taking a riff and pounding out a good long headbanging session from it, before they tear off in another direction, but equally, there are plenty of shifts and changes to keep your attention locked in.
If you’re looking for some really nasty, churning metal, with a flavour of some Death Metal classics, but a constant ear for invention, step this way ladies and gentlemen. I wasn’t necessarily planning to take a bath in intestines today, but oh, ok why not. Hail to the RAT KING baby. 8/10 Tom Boatman
8/10 To Greatness and Glory!
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