Conjoined loosely as Limited Mutanter in 1991 alongside fellow Kharkiv, Ukraine death metal bands Tesseract and Suppuration (pre-Nokturnal Mortum), Mutanter would record three demos (one technically a full album) under their original name before disbanding in 1996. Although they reformed in 2011 and released a live DVD in 2013 there was little new activity on record until their official change to the Mutanter name and acquisition of vocalist Andriy Gordienko in 2016. Their demos always represented the more brutal side of 90’s death metal (Sinister, Cannibal Corpse) but on their debut full-length ‘The Limit’ they take songs written between 1992 and 2016 towards the style of technical/brutal death metal common around 2005 during the reign of Behemoth, Nile and the like. They’ve arrived, but not as shambling dinosaurs.
Although their techniques are mildly repetitive throughout the 45 minute span of ‘The Limit’ Mutanter undoubtedly play an understated form of technical death metal that leans slightly brutal a la ‘Zos Kia Cultus’ by Behemoth, Trauma‘s ‘Imperfect Like a God’ or Myrkskog‘s ‘Deathmachine’. Their style of composition is entirely thematic variation punctuated by harmonics and a healthy amount of influence from Morbid Angel as well as Polish death metal classics. While I do enjoy this style of death metal I don’t think it ever quite reaches the peaks of early Decapitated or Anata in terms of communicating brutal and technical death with imaginative, fluid ideas.
So, it isn’t the second coming of tech death nor does it invoke the traditions of 90’s death metal and as such Mutanter operates in a very safe, comfortable zone for my tastes. It is comfort food to fill up on and although some of the technical guitar tricks seem dated, I actually love that pre-2010 era of death metal and have no problem with that aspect. Recent releases from Sinister and Lecherous Nocturne are perhaps doing more with this approach while ‘The Limit’ feels mired in it’s influences and less like a band toiling away for decades. Taken for what it is, a debut, Mutanter‘s first album is a strong semi-technical death metal record that professional and satisfyingly heavy. If you can escape the mild sensation of 00’s retro brutal-tech it’ll likely be a thrilling ride.
The listen improves towards the end with repetition and most of my favorite riffs/moments happen in the last four tracks. “Worthless” is incredibly sharp and I love the contrapuntal riffing that kicks in-and-out as it progresses. “Dead End” reminded me heavily of ‘The Negation’ if only for it’s groove and use of harmonics and “Perception of Reality” offers a summation of the technique and style covered across the album’s entirety. I started to wonder why the more technical lead guitar work is all crammed towards the beginning of the record and the second half is far more standard and in that previously mentioned modern Sinister style. This doesn’t make the album feel uneven but it does feel front loaded with a certain style of guitar idea that isn’t continuous.
‘The Limit’ is well worth a listen if you’re a fan of straight forward death metal that leans slightly into the brutal 00’s and some mildly technical ideas. It does not innovate but builds up satisfying momentum as it plays and ends with some of Mutanter‘s stronger ideas. You could preview just about any song on ‘The Limit’ and get a good idea of what it sounds like throughout so, start anywhere.
|Released||June 22, 2018|
|BUY/LISTEN from Kernkraftritter Records!||Follow Mutanter on Facebook|
Torched in horror sublime. 3.25/5.0
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