OBSEQUIES by Rats of Reality
Genre: Thrash, Crust Punk
Favorite Tracks: “Catharsis,” “Mar”
Label 2318 has an interesting knack for curating the kind of black metal that blurs the line between brutal annihilation of the ear drums and fun thrash to run around the pit to. In the metal world, there are so many niche and fractal tastes that it’s better to find a specific sound that will satisfy a specific audience. Fitting nicely into this mold, Rats of Reality are a crust-punk/black metal act from Scotland who have unleashed a torrent of bold, ridiculous, and infectiously blackened songs for your listening pleasure. OBSEQUIES may be brief, but it packs an ear-ringing punch with what it does have to offer.
Opening track “Catharsis” really sets the mood nicely, opening with a dramatic, almost MASTER OF PUPPETS style solo, before quickly shifting gears into a thrash track complimented with black metal vocals. “Mar” is another clear highlight, walking a razor’s edge between being a punk anthem inspired by the likes of Agnostic Front and Lower Class Brats, but smashed up against the well produced black metal of contemporaries like Krallice and AKHLYS. There’s so many different influences within the genres Rats of Reality are drawing from that it would be tedious to try to list them all, but just know that there is a great interweaving and reinventing of several stale genres going on in every track featured here.
Lyrically, all the songs featured are deliciously anti-religious and nihilistic, and the EP spirals further and further into a void with each track, with James McBain’s growl doing a great job pushing the listener down as the record progresses. It can be easy for black metal like this to get melodramatic and even sanctimonious, but by balancing their sound out with more thrash and punk elements, and especially by containing most of the tracks to under four minutes in length, Rats do an excellent job saying what needs to be said and hurtling on to the next song.
The real strength of this EP is how nimbly it manages to maneuver between crust, black metal, and thrash without ever letting one genre totally overpower the sound and mood of the record as a whole. Rats of Reality have a gift for creating massive walls of sound, but not crushing the listener with absolute dread. The credit here is due in large part to James McBain’s versatile guitar skills ‒ the man can melodically solo and crank out a filthy riff seamlessly within a single track. As a whole, they’re an act that thrives on death, decay, and chaos, but clearly also have a penchant for the more fun thrash acts of the 80s, and in finding that sweet spot between “total nihilistic annihilation” and “ludicrous hair metal,” they manage to forge an exhilarating sound that doesn’t feel as tired and trodden as modern black metal often can. If these guys ever manage to make it all the way to Southern California, they should know they’ll have at least one steadfast fan in their pit.