Inhuman Condition – Rat°God Review

As an elderly gent who was already big into heavy metal long before genres like death and black arose and split off to maraud and pillage, I remember the early days of death fondly. Those seminal 80s albums by Death, Necrophagia, and Pestilence were simple, elemental and loads of unholy fun. When Massacre’s long-delayed From Beyond debut hit the streets in 1991, it was like a capstone on that original sound, which was already mutating and evolving into nastier, more abhorrent entities. I’m still very fond of those early platters, and was especially annoyed that Massacre never managed a decent follow up to their classic release. Fast-forward 30 years and Death/Massacre alumnus Terry Butler teamed up with some well-traveled younger guns to release what is essentially a continuation of Massacre with the name Inhuman Condition. He attempted a similar feat in 2014 under the Massacre banner and the results were sub par. This time however, the Death Godz were appeased. Rat°God is an album custom crafted to sound like it dropped somewhere between 1988 and 1991, and the band really nailed the sound and mood of that bygone era. This is 120% caveman death metal of the earliest vintage – groove-heavy, simplistic, and designed to stomp your nuts into your cranial cavity. In other words, it’s threatening you with a damn good time.

Opening cudgel “Euphoriphobia” is like an express train back to From Beyond, from the Kam Lee-esque bellow that opens it, to the insane whammy dives made famous by Rick Rozz. This track has everything I want in a throwback death metal tune and it wormed its vile way into my chestal cavity within 20 seconds. Tracks like the ripping “Planetary Paroxysm” and “Gravebound” dig deep in the fetid soil of albums like Leprosy and Consuming Impulse to pull rotten death mulch from the dirt and hurl it at unsuspecting listeners. There’s nothing new fangled or modern at all in the delivery, and for all intents and purposes, these are time-locked tunes from a narrow epoch of metal history. That said, they’re heavy, meaty, memorable and fun! That last part is something that often seems to have been left in death metal’s forgotten past.

What may be the album’s best feature is how well it winds out with a trio of seriously old school ass kickers. The title track is an up-tempo, riffy groove monster with enough weight to get Giles Corey talking, and “Crown of Mediocrity” mixes thrashy segments with ugly doom plodding to great effect. Closer “Fait Accompli” is the ideal track to finish you off with, as classic Massacre-isms bounce off elements that sound like they fell off the back of the truck carrying Sepultura’s Beneath the Remains to the Hall o’ Classics. That said, not every song hits the mark. “The Neck Step” is like something Six Feet Under and Machine Head would come up if they drank a jug of moonshine together, and its simplistic, proto-Neanderthal approach and chorus just don’t click for me. It feels like it doesn’t fit with the rest of the album and it annoys me. Mis(neck)step aside, the combination of album length (32:46) and short track lengths (all between 3-4 minutes) makes Rat°God a breezy, highly entertaining listen with some smoking examples of early death to blast the grey matter

Jeramie Kling (Ex Deo, Ribspreader, Wombath) performs double-duty as vocalist and drummer and does a fine job in both spheres of influence. His delivery isn’t far from Kam Lee, which is a win for me, and he injects all sorts of low-bro brutish hostility into his vocal attacks. Taylor Nordberg (The Absence, Ribspreader, Wombath) provides some satisfyingly bone-cracking riffs and ace lead guitar play, dropping classic death solos and eerie, jangled flourishes that accent the primitive clubbing in just the right ways. The immortal Rick Rozz drops in for some solo-work on “Tyrantula” and it’s like a high school reunion but way cooler and more trve. The band understands the early death metal sound completely and nails all the little details to make the material feel appropriately olde and ugly. This is 100% the kind of shit I grew up with and the nostalgia factor is set to maximum.

There’s a very specific demographic that will eat up what Inhuman Condition is doing, and I’m a part of it. However, the strength of the material on Rat°God is good enough to reach beyond the old fogey set and grab fans of all ages and deathstyles. This is as close as it gets to summer rock death metal, and that’s a recipe for heavy, dumb fun. The old dawgs did some olde tricks here but accidently made it feel fresh and new. Go figure, then go acquire.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Listenable Insanity
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: June 4th, 2021

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