Like the cornerstones of the modern American black metal scene (Nachtmystium, Liturgy, Wolves in the Throne Room, Xasthur), Mutilation Rites bow at the blasphemous altars of their distant Norwegian forefathers (Darkthrone, Immortal, Mayhem and Burzum), then inject the music with their own elements — in MR’s case, math metal, thrash and doom — to create a new style of sonic demolition. As prolific as they are creative, these New Yorkers (composed of current and ex-members of Tombs, Heuristic and Today is the Day) have already released two EPs and full album in the first half of 2012.
Clearly, the members write like a band possessed, yet Empyrean feels neither rushed, nor half-assed. Riding the incendiary wave they’ve created, Mutilation Rites have crafted a six-song, 35-minute epic that’s bleak, but not morose and multi-faceted, but never perplexing. “Realms of Dementia” pulses on a crushing Pantera-esque guitar groove before segueing into a nausea-inducing volley of rapidly picked melodic notes and angular, ripping rhythms, “Ancient Bloodoath” is pure fucking Armageddon — a white-knuckle journey of frantic blastbeats, beehive guitars and agonized screams that doesn’t stray from its original, obliterating tempo until nearly the three minute mark; then, the song veers off into sections that are alternately proggy and brooding. And “Broken Axis” gradually evolves from a full-throttle assault of speed and complexity into a trudging showcase of atmospheric, feedback-saturated guitars. At the rate they’re going, Mutilation Rites could have doubled their output by this time next year and be one of the leaders of U.S. black metal. Praise be theirs.