There’s a delightful idiom in the Afrikaans language that perfectly summarises Mütiilation’s 2018 release of six “demo” pieces, The Lost Tapes: rof en onbeskof. It’s English translation - “rough and ready” - lacks the quirky rhyming slang effect – and quirky is definitely apt when describing this release, over and above the unpolished, uncouth nature of this re-recording.
The official genre classification from Osmose Productions lists this recording as ‘raw black metal’, but its lo-fi charm transcends this. The gravelly growl from sole member Meyhnach, coupled with what can generously be described as a pedestrian rhythm section, may have been recorded in a rehearsal space in 2009/2010, but its sound is lifted straight from the early 1990s, somewhere between Mayhem and Darkthrone, although the melodic nature of the guitar work (like the introduction passage of “To The Memory of the Dark Countess”) showcases a more mature attitude towards songwriting that is at odds with the primitive savagery of the production quality.
Despite these obvious flaws, The Lost Tapes still exudes a barbaric charm that may be limited to a kvlt audience (entirely in keeping with the elitist attitudes Les Légions Noires were known for in the 1990s) but definitely checks the right boxes for this small sector of the metal community. “Black Imperial Blood”, for example, is a glorious showcase of second wave clichés, from tremolo picked riffs, constantly blasting drums and drawled, inhuman vocals right through to its high-gain, treble-heavy tone.
Dare to enter the album and it’s vampiric themes via the lead track, “Transylvania”.
Overall, intellectual analysis says there is no way The Lost Tapes can be a success – but emotionally and subjectively, that non-success and highly limited (500 units!) run are entirely in keeping with the authentic expression of proto-black metal. The vampiric themes, atmospheric melodies and, yes, acidic misanthropy, of prior Mütiilation records is entirely present and it is not likely that first-time listeners will be inspired to venture further into the act’s back catalogue, but for those who really appreciate the allure of the rof en onbeskof, this recording is a gem that ends too soon.
The Lost Tapes Track Listing:
02. To the Memory of the Dark Countess
03. Black Imperial Blood
04. Born Under the Master’s Spell
05. Through the Funeral Maelstrom of Evil
06. My Travels to Sadness, Hate & Depression
Run Time: 38:54 Release Date: December 24, 2018 Record Label: Osmose Productions
01. Les Légions Noires were a small, very close-knit group of black metal musicians from Brest, France, who existed as a musical and philosophical counterpoint to Euronymous’ Black Metal Inner Circle in Norway.