Rat King – Vicious Inhumanity Review

Do you want your face ripped off? Are you desiring to have your skull bludgeoned to concussive proportions? Do you want both at once?? Look no further, ’cause deathgrind’s got you covered. From the swanky animal-lovin’ veganity of Cattle Decapitation, the hardcore crusty punch of Misery Index, the tech wankery of Dying Fetus, or the murky brutality of Infernal Coil, it’s a style characterized by one focus: knocking your lights out hard and fast. In spite of the savage atmosphere, it’s a style royally ruled by the the upper echelon of the aforementioned acts, and a trickle-down effect of its underlings. Because of this, it can be difficult for fresh baby-faces to rear their heads in a scene when you’re not an expiring unborn, a book of pain, or cow executioner.

Enter Rat King, whose gross name1 and slimy Lovecraftian cover denote the viscous and punishing metal within. While this Seattle three-piece may not be the most prestigious of the bunch, the ideas present on sophomore effort Vicious Inhumanity are worthy of praise – a blend of deathgrind with moments of sludgy glacial eeriness contrasting its impenetrable grime. While its influences of doom and sludge are notably ambitious, they are prone to detracting slightly from the overall mix, resulting in a solid effort with green slimy potential hemorrhaging from every pore.

Vicious Inhumanity‘s style of sludgy deathgrind is at its best when it decides on a style and sticks to it. Tracks like opening act in “Matanza,” “Borratanico,” and “Chaleco de Billetes” are no-holds-barred deathgrind tracks full of scorching riffs, chaotic drumming, bass noodling, and vicious roars, hearkening to the deathgrind greats while also paying homage to Entombed worshipers like Black Breath and Mammoth Grinder. Later songs amp up a shapeshifting mindset, with tracks like “Soledad,” “Zero,” and “Stranded” relying on Baroness-esque vocals and slower bass-centric sludge riffs recalling the doom/death/grind (?) fusion of the weirdass and legendary Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire. “In Quiet Sleep” is unique in its flamenco-inspired intro and outro, providing thereafter one the catchiest riffs on the album. An album highlight throughout, the low end is extremely noteworthy: while the guitar solos of “Soledad” and “Rotting from Inside” are solid, the real star of the show is the bass guitar. Offering subtle but extremely rewarding noodles throughout, the deep rumbles often provide the backbone of the more reserved tracks. The production mostly works throughout the runtime, providing a fiery death ‘n roll crunch reminiscent of Cleric or The Generals.

The negative tracks throughout Vicious Inhumanity are sunk by the very thing that distinguishes them from the deathgrind pack: ambition. While the best tracks are those that stick to a certain sound, there are those whose reach exceeds their grasp, ending up feeling disappointingly scattershot. Tracks like “Chanchito” or closer “Rotting from Inside” try to fuse passages of scorching deathgrind with sludgy contemplation in contrasting passages, feeling more unfocused than interesting. These tracks are also bookended by two of the best sludge-centric tracks of the album in the dynamic Eryn Non Dae.-ian “Zero” and Gojira-esque “Stranded,” simply falling short by comparison. And while “In Quiet Sleep” is unique in its ambition, it does far too little for its five-minute-plus runtime to really stand out. In general, the mixing and production do not favor the drums, which give off a distant tinny snare tone, detracting slightly from the relentless punishing sound.

Rat King‘s got some ideas, yo. Sophomore effort Vicious Inhumanity reflects the grime of its cover in its usage of the relentless and ominous. Clocking in at a digestible, but maybe still a wee long-ish, thirty-four minute runtime, it’s a fun slimy interpretation of pummeling deathgrind, one that holds promise for an extremely bright future. While the Seattle trio’s sophomore effort certainly hearkens to the most elite of the style’s stalwart acts, it also distinguishes itself nicely but has a few kinks to iron out. Consider my brain concussed and face removed in the wake of this Vicious Inhumanity.


 Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Within the Mind Records
Websites: ratkingband.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/ratkingseattle
Releases Worldwide: 
January 17th, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. Weird AF phenomenon when multiple rats get their tails stuck together, like that one All Pigs Must Die album cover.
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