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Rat King – The Plague Of Hamelin

  • Review by: Ankit Baraskar

Black metal started off as a somewhat localized phenomenon. There was Norwegian black metal, there was Swedish black metal and a plethora of other subgenres emerged. What, then, would be Indian black metal, I wondered? And then I chanced upon this Rat King release. Describing their sound on myspace as ambient/experimental/industrial, I could not help but notice a sizeable proportion of black metal elements in the approach this demented duo from Chennai has towards music.

The record starts off with ‘The Plague Of Hamelin’, the title track. Right from the intro, the music gives a hint of being a manifestation of what many would term tangible evil. The flute in the background looms ominously for the first few minutes, but the main verse hits you like a brick in the face. Incredibly well composed, the first song garners interest and heightens your expectation for what follows.

The next few tracks titled ‘Metamorphosis pt1 &2’ attempt to capture the atmosphere of the town of Hamelin slowly being infested by rats and slowly build up towards a climax, which can be found in the song ‘In Blood And Feculence We Unite’, which captures a slightly festive yet sinister mood. The slightly porno-inspired moans towards the end seem unnecessary and out of place with the theme though. ‘Lord Piper’ has a grand feel that indicates the plans the thwarted Piper has for Hamelin. This one has a predominantly industrial/techno feel to it.

‘26061284’ was an enigma to me. The ambient sound breaks down into diminished black metal riffing and blast beats towards the middle, and is sure to give BM fans a rush of adrenaline.( On wikiing, I found that 26 June 1284 AD was the supposed date on which the Pied Piper of Hamelin supposedly spirited away the children. Research well done, guys.)  ‘And There Were None’ and ‘Hamelin Harvested’ reflect upon the desolation of a bleak and childless town.

There are no lyrics, but the ambient electronica has been used as an effective tool for portraying the story, making this album more like reading a graphic novel, and thus rendering it a highly unique experience. The production is spot-on, the songwriting is intelligent and original, though sometimes the silent parts drag on for a little too long, especially with respect to those not accustomed to such music. The last song could have been a lot shorter and would still have made no difference, though that’s merely a personal opinion.

The only downside would be that in their quest for perfection, Rat King have shied away from the mainstream, both in terms of metal and electronica. It isn’t an album every metalhead would admire, considering it lacks prodigious amounts of shred, heavy riffs throughout or consistent double bass. And it isn’t your normal, peppy electronica album either, reminiscent of artists such as :wumpscut:. But if you’re an open headed headbanger who likes to experiment with good trance/electronica and won’t mind a slight fusion experience, at 100 bucks a copy, this album is a bloody giveaway.

You can check out some of their songs on their myspace. And if you like what you hear, do buy the album!

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