From the first guitar squeals of the brand new album from the wild Seattle-area band Rat King, the menacingly brutal songs feel captivating. On Vicious Inhumanity, which is the group’s second album overall, Rat King have packed straightforward death metal brutality that’s pockmarked by swaggering riffs that make the entire sonic concoction feel extra demented. The cover art depicts some kind of otherworldly, clearly threatening creature, and the music really delivers feelings of encountering a beast like the monster depicted. Awe-inspiring grandiosity mixes with suffocating sonic horror and the whole mix gets kicked on down the road by the band’s relentless energy, and it lands perfectly, with a really memorable sonic identity for the album (and band).
Really, the group feels very genre-free here, and it’s great. On their track “In Quiet Sleep,” which appears just around the midway point on the album, Rat King’s performances slow down (only comparatively speaking) and some real bottom-of-the-ocean, feedback-laden, sludge metal menace shines through. But then, on the very next track, the band deliver massive riffs that feel ripped from one of the most brutal hardcore bands imaginable, and thanks to the endless chaotic musical slams of energy — the transitions between those extremes and all of the rest on this album feel perfectly juicy, at least in death/grind terms.
Mostly, Rat King stick to the really fast, really physically brutal performances that mark the most thrilling death metal, but rather than stick to the intricacies of their riff construction alone, they’ve expanded to include those other poignant sonic elements. The sheer thickness of their sound sometimes even feels reminiscent of a kind of black metal grandiosity, although they never linger overly long on that point.
And through all of this grinding chaos, they’ve maintained the jumping off point that makes this kind of music exciting in the first place. They have captured a perfect middle ground between sonic experimentation and gripping excitement. Even when trudging through the most miserable musical territory, the new album’s subtly soaring energy never ends — the thing is, that energy just doesn’t only pack glimpses of the light. In fact, there’s not much breathing space on this album at all. Instead, listening in feels like a mental adrenaline rush on a roller coaster.
Vicious Inhumanity is available in full on January 17 from the Seattle-area Within The Mind Records. Get the album at this link.
Listen to some below: