Although it takes some considerable willpower to resist relaying nearly three decades of negative press and scuttlebutt surrounding the constantly split-and-rebuilt formations of early Florida death metal band Massacre, not to mention whatever ‘Promise’ was, prattling on with a negative tear on an artist whose work speaks for itself only ends up degrading the prattler. I don’t know if we could call Florida based trio Inhuman Condition‘s ‘Rat God‘ a revenge piece but it inarguably smacks of the strongest conviction scorn can muster and not to mention the most professional sound and quality songcraft we’ve gotten to date from the hyper-active duo of Taylor Nordberg and Jeramie Kling who notably pair in melodic death metal act The Absence and Goregäng otherwise; They’re on fire here and even though I doubted this one would shape-up for months, it ends up being the most exemplar “retro” Florida death metal album we’ve gotten in about a decade. In this sense what would have been perhaps the best release from Massacre since 1992 rightfully lands with great power in the hands of the duo, who’d written roughly an album and a half’s worth of material absolutely tailor made to sound like classic ‘From Beyond’ and ‘Scream Bloody Gore’ gear for Kam Lee starting in 2019 ’til their furious exit from the group in 2020. Recruiting the legend himself Terry Butler (Obituary, another Massacre alumnus) and putting out the best quality product possible, full of insane riffs, polished but ancient sound and classic extreme metal rhythms drops like a bomb on fans such as myself who’ve set our bars of expectation low and gotten a real killer in ‘Rat God’.
I’ve been listening to ‘Leprosy’ and ‘From Beyond’ in fairly regular intervals since 1995 as I explored Death‘s discography prior to ‘Symbolic’ and related projects so, the caveat here for the not so die-hard folks seeking non-referential rhythm guitar work: This album is unabashedly meant to sound like those albums and in a few cases it lifts riffs note-for-note with only the transitions between them offering any modulation. We are here for nostalgia and death metal done right for the most part. Just as I’d loved Gruesome‘s ‘Savage Land’ for directly tackling those sounds with serious enthusiasm and a heavy as balls result, so do I love what ‘Rat God’ does here invoking these same classics while putting their own spin on them, which interestingly enough leans into mean-as-fuck thrash metal riffs, Rozz-esque solo-diving scrawls (including one from the man himself on “Tyrantula”) and a surprisingly well-formed vocal personae via Kling. Yes, this record is primarily concerned with past glory and sure, these songs were written specifically for a Massacre “comeback” but no matter where these songs came from or ended up, they’ve represented pure and inventive ‘old school’ Florida death metal better than most. I’ll definitely eat shit if the factory farmed-out Nuclear Blast record that eventually follows is even half as good as ‘Rat God’, the quality control here is untouchable by comparison to various other mile(s) long resumes.
So, what lands so well here that has me cranked up to eleven on this one? Crisp up the ol’ tube-popping overdrive, slap the throttle up to Vader speed, take a few hits of Celtic Frost (via Obituary) crawls, use a still-connected streetlamp for a bass guitar and we’ve got more than a plain and fumbling retro worship album in hand but, a solid “riff” album that vitally understands just how catchy the thrash heavy mid-to-late 80’s transitional songwriting was as death metal emerged. Great death metal has always been about the songs and songwriters running on instinct, not the lucky guy who growled first. “Euphoriphobia” practically punches its own sternum open as it busts into its first riff presenting a basic song structure, plenty of shredding energy and an easily felt and remembered opener that ensures the rest of the record has to hold this momentum or fail miserably. I’m as surprised as anyone else is that this thing absolutely does keep the momentum blazing, straight into “The Neck Step”, one of the simpler songs on the album that lands for the sake of its slower early Obituary-esque groove which ramps up around ~2:47 minutes into the song. “Planetary Paroxysm” has a bit of a “Forgotten Past” lean to its main verse and though I’d found these early Death-toasted riffs were too referential for me at times I had to take a step back and appreciate that few have ever done it this well with such a polished sound.
There isn’t any serious value in chopping this album up piece-by-piece and song by song, you’re getting more of what I’ve already described throughout the full listen and they’ve managed sublime consistency throughout, hitting particularly memorable lines on “Rat God” and “Tyrantula” where the accost of a certain despotic accoster intensifies to a head on “Crown of Mediocrity”. The spite here is incredible, palpably malignant stuff to the point that I could not help but find this aspect of Inhuman Condition thrillingly over the top. ‘Rat God’ nonetheless relies on simple and memorable death metal songs entirely to hold up across many listens and hey, you’ve gotten that point by now. My recommendation here largely stems from the value Inhuman Condition bring beyond nostalgia, despite that being their major purpose and intent in creating these pieces, as they’ve left all sort of foreshadowing here that their next album will be be no less of a traditional death metal beast but capably of its own simple-yet-effective design. A very high recommendation.
|LABEL(S):||Blood Blast Digital,|
Listenable Insanity Records
|RELEASE DATE:||June 4th, 2021|
|BUY & LISTEN:||Bandcamp [All Formats]|
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