There’s something about bands from Seattle, Washington, that really sets them apart from the rest of the pack. Being from Seattle carries some weight, with such bands as Big Business, Nevermore, and SunnO))) all calling it home. The heavy music from there seems to have this murky quality to it, with a slightly harder edge and, despite the diverse sounds each band bring to the table, there’s a common thread. Rat King are no exception, as can be heard on Vicious Inhumanity, the trio’s latest full-length release.
Vicious Inhumanity is a sludgy, grinding beast of a record, full of heavy, pummeling riffs that sound like equal parts Ed Gein, Nails, and Soilent Green. Album-opener “Matanza” starts things off with an evil-sounding, super fuzzed out riff that gives you the impression that this is going to be a sludge record. While there are certainly elements of stoner/sludge metal to be heard throughout Vicious Inhumanity, just after the 1 minute mark of “Matanza,” Rat King break into a fast, violent riff that absolute pounds the listener into submission. Self-described as “Latin/Groove/Speed/Death,” Rat King blast through all 9 tracks with stunning ferocity. Even when things do slow down, like on “Soledad” and the first half of “Stranded,” the band still delivers on the “vicious” part of the album title.
A lot of newer grindcore and death metal bands like to use a super fuzzy distortion pedal on their guitars, similar to the old Boss HM-2 pedal. Though I don’t know for sure that Rat King are using that pedal, the riffs certainly have that scratchy, fuzzy tone. Normally when you hear a band playing at the blistering speeds that Rat King reach on some of the tracks, things get a little murky-sounding, and I tend to find that a hinderance to the mix. Fortunately, that’s not really the case on Vicious Inhumanity; though sometimes the tone does get a little murky, such as on the verse riffs for “Chaleco De Billetes,” it all feels calculated. Not only is this a fast, brutal record, but the fuzzy distortion and raw, almost live-sounding mix on the bass and drums gives Vicious Inhumanity a dirty, diseased quality to the sound.
Even though this is a great record overall, the melodic bits on “Soledad” and “In Quiet Sleep” feel a little forced. While I certainly appreciate diverse sounds being brought into a record like this one (blastbeats and speed-picked riffs can get monotonous after a while), the melodies feel somewhat out of place. Meanwhile, the acoustic intro on “Zero” works perfectly with the tone of the rest of the song, which has a sludgy riff that would be just as welcome on an Acid Bath record as a grindcore record. “In Quiet Sleep” has a Latin vibe, particularly because of the rhythm and use of the toms on the drum kit but, again, feels like it came from a different songwriting session than the rest of the record. It’s not a bad song, but it feels tacked on to the record. “Soledad” has some really cool riffs but, again, the melodies feel a little slapped together. Still, I admire Rat King for trying to keep things fresh, and with a little more polish, they can certainly incorporate some more melody into future releases.
Vicious Inhumanity is a killer record that should be a part of any extreme metal fans’ collection, and marks Rat King as an up-and-coming worth keeping an eye on.