Mutator - Years Of Pain - (7.5/10)
Published on February 15, 2019
There are three rules that any consumer of new music should have when approaching unexplored sonic territory: never judge a book by it’s cover, anticipate a band’s name and presentation occasionally being deceiving, and don’t eat peanuts or cashews while typing and having no drink in sight. Case and point, the recently hatched monstrosity out of The Netherlands known as Mutator, who’s name would suggest yet another retro-thrash adherent with an eye to emulating the 80s Teutonic, Bay Area or Brazilian sound. The truth that unfolds on this vile, brutal four song cycle of auditory carnage dubbed Years Of Pain is a totally different beast than a run-of-the-mill Bonded By Blood or Fueled By Fire, taking the darkest and most intense elements of the black and red corridors of thrash metal and coming out with something of a hybrid death/thrash sound that is fairly unique, if maybe a bit disjointed.
Not content to simply conform to the common cliche riffing style and repetitious thrash drumming at full speed, this intense affair mixes things up like it’s going out of style, often veering clear off the thrash reservation and morphing into a full on death metal affair. Vocalist Ed Moeskops, who goes by the comical Shredded Edd stage name like a front man for a Cannibal Corpse tribute band, actually has more in common with Chris Barnes and Chuck Schuldiner than even the viler side of the thrash vocal coin that rounded out the fringes of the German sound. Similarly, the textbook thrashing elements that filter in and out of each song is cut with full on blast beats and off-kilter technical noodling that occasionally reminds of something off a Watchtower album, while at others outright emulating latter day Death, but overall the songwriting is so asymmetrical in character that one might even be tempted to slap the progressive moniker on this EP.
Though the presentation both vocally and production wise has all the makings of an attempt to resurrect Scott Burns’ career behind the console, there are moments where this definitely listens more like a textbook thrash album than others. The song that probably embodies the most thrash conventions in the riffing department is “Karma”, which has the guttural vocals in spades and a fair share to twists and turns, but mostly rides a set of conventional Bay Area riffs and has more of a consistent flow. Similarly, although a bit more Death-like in its noodling elements, “Revenge” has a bit more of a driving thrash feel. By total contrast, “Sick Society features guitar work that comes off as an amped up retread of something heard on Individual Thought Patterns, and the full on death metal slaughter fest “Ruined For Life” starts and finishes dead center in Tomb Of The Mutilated territory.
There are a few odds and ends that sort of hold this thing back and make it come off as more of a rough draft than a finished product, most of it being the somewhat rough and uneven production job. Likewise, although the intent of this band seems to be to maximize the brutality and technical intrigue factor as much as possible without wholly abandoning the thrash style, they could stand to organize their songs a bit more consistently and even throw in a few guitar solos rather than just going nuts during the riffing segments while the vocals are still going, which creates a sense of rhythmic disunity in the whole that actually guts against the desired brutality. It’s not quite a progressive nor a technical endeavor in a sub-genre sense, but it gets scarily close to it, and should have a fair degree of appeal to extreme thrash and death metal fans from Slayer to Suffocation.