Artist: Mutilated Tyrant
Album: Dark Sign of the Baphomet
Country: United States
Written by Aaron Michael Kobes
The main issue with covering a band like Mutilated Tyrant within the scope of a week aimed at taking a closer look at a particular group or region, is that I’m given certain latitudes to choose which album I cover. While this is typically the case at Cave Dweller Music, we try to keep the main focus on the latest music, to give the coverage to up and coming bands that deserve it as much as they need it. The issue with Mutilate Tyrant then, is what do I cover? Seemingly, the choice is simplified as there are limited options, with only a few (three) singles and two EP’s, Ho’dichiih Dóó’ Sáji’ and Dark Sign of the Baphomet. However, narrowing the decision down to the obvious between the two EPS, there lies a Sophie’s Choice, one Atmospheric Black Metal and a little on the Experimental side, the other a Blackened Death Metal occult offering. Despite my love of Atmospheric Black Metal, I ultimately chose Dark Sign of the Baphomet, as it is not only the entry point for the band themselves, but an unbridled execution of raw energy being transmogrified into an EP dripping with brutality.
Starting out the EP is Fallen Kings of Men (Intro), an ambient track filled with ominous underpinnings, like the haunting tone of a battle synth, clangs of steel, crackling of fire and the shouts of men. The track begins with an almost Dungeon Synth-esque overture as a sort of resurgence from the genre’s Black Metal roots, rather than transcendence into it. There is soon an obfusticated tracking that sounds like the tinny recording of crackling flames that melt into horses whinnying alongside the clamp of hooves and clash of metal before the yelling and howling of men can be discerned. This cacophony of confusion creates the feeling of a battle joined, and does an impressive job of creating a juxtaposition of the aforementioned with the metered consistency of the synth progression, as if to make a statement of the inevitable rhythmic nature of violence. The metered synth gives way to a similar chord progression on guitar that’s tuned to the pinched whining of Death Metal that takes over the second half of the track before giving way back to a more sinister synth and a funereal thumping of a singular drum.
Following is the aptly named track, Awakening, starting off with an open hi-hat sizzle of a count-in before pummeling your ear drums with a Thrash inspired intro of Death. The pacing is frenetic in its energy writhing the first minute or so of the track giving off a sense of urgency without sacrificing any of its fastly earned brutalness. There is a slight shift in tempo after the one minute mark, but it’s hardly what would be considered a down-shift, as the guitar decrease it’s pace of blazing riffs to more sustained tremors the percussive elements pick up the slack with a double bass groove resplendent with saucy crash cymbals to flush out the wall of sound. Soon after we are introduced to one of the most fascinating aspects of Dark Sign of the Baphomet, the vocals. As an aside, it important to note that Mutilated Tyrant hail from the Navajo Nation, and the language of that nation, Navajo, is tonal, meaning that pitch helps distinguish words. What we are given in Awakening, and through the remainder of Dark Sign, is a veritable master course in occult aggression and seething disdain that makes it abundantly clear what Mutilated Tyrant is saying, even if you can’t distinguish the lyrics proper, doing any second wave Black Metal vocalist proud. As if that we’re not bleak and damned enough, Mutilated Tyrant then takes it a step further, invoking the names of demons such as Beliail, Baal, Lucifer and Leviathan as the track ends howling, “The reign of demons/The end of all life”, as they track chuffs to a close and is left on a hanging sustain.
Infernal Legions is the next track, and is singularly inspired by early Black Metal acts, with the only thing missing is the consistent reliance on blast beats, a steadfast hallmark of the genre. The track begins in a grandiose fashion in the form of overly accentuated, yet equally heavy guitar riffs played atop a matched-tempo percussive track that takes their time in establishing their presence. Once done, there is the typical bridge of quick-stop drumming with the empty spaces being filled by a quickened guitar, before the two seemingly disparate elements are combined in a clashed fusion of barreling depravity and lugubriousness. The intensity by which Mutilated Tyrant deliver the more traditional Black Metal sound is not lost or pinned under by an overuse of the troped out blast beats to make it sound more “brutal”, but rather its sparing use of it as an accentuation serves to highlight the melody rather than drown it out. Once again, the vocals are of special note within the track, as there is not only an additional singer to consider, it the delivery itself is something overly unique in so far as my experience with the genre goes. To put it simply, the vocals do not always sync up with what is transpiring musically, and it fucking rules. There are often moments of off-kilter screams that make it seem like whatever obscene conjugations are being cast or grisly confessionals, there is a matter of pause from the heavy weight it takes on the singer, as if there were pauses between lyrical utterings needed to spit out the blood and bile associated in the utterance of such heresies, “. Further illustrating such a point is the occult imagery called upon within the lyrics content that is about as hardcore metal as one can get staying on this side rod the parody line, “ Decend in to the infernal abyss Endless/ killings of/ Religious filth/ Decapitating my enemies/ Bones and flesh crushed/ Night of a blood moon/ Ritual to our lord/ The infernal legions/ An oath to Satan/Abyss ov the infernal Monarch”.
Closing out the EP is the Titular track, offering up yet another variation of genre blending as seen in Awakening. Coming in heavy from a reverse fade, is another slow and metered start before the quickened pace sets in, however, there is more of a pinched guitar melody reminiscent of early Thrash and Death Metal. After the intro, there is an uptick in aggressive instrumental output that, while not set to the Blackened tone of Infernal Legions, still provides a vicious outpouring of interspersed blazing speed and chugging heaviness that punches home lyrics like, “I am your master/I am your servant…forever grasping your soul/the eternal fires burn with obscurity”. What Dark Sign of the Baphomet, track and EP alike, accomplish then is a faithful reconstruction of grassroots, old school metal regrown and handed out anew, while remaining wholly its own in the name Mutilated Tyrant.
Though the band has had a limited release over the years, the craftwork put into the construction of each release as a love letter to the genres they so obviously draw inspirations from, make them well worth the wait. What is more, the replay ability for an EP such as Dark Sign of the Baphomet is to the extent that it falls into one of those rare categories of always being put on when one is in indecision of what to play next, as it is such a reliable piece that scratches every itch that a lover of metal could want.
Be righteous by listening to and supporting Mutilated Tyrant on Bandcamp: