High, Low and In Between #4 – Mutilated (FRA) | Psychodeath Lunatics, 1988

[We are Gimme Radio regulars now. Proper main-event attractions. But there is no satisfying our lust for all things joyfully decadent in heavy music. Contain the beast then. That’s all we’re doing here really.

Welcome to another music review. Number four! Our fourth show on Gimme Radio is also just around the corner, so let this entertain you and allow you to become a formidable human of unquenchable good taste.

We go for old and new releases, hi-fi, lo-fi and everything in between and the only rule is that it’s got to be mental METAL!]

Mutilated (FRA) | Psychodeath Lunatics [Demo], 1988

mutilated psychodeath lunatics 1988

You speed up your speed metal to the point where it becomes thrash and then you round it up with the aesthetical stench of corpses. That secret ingredient, together with a hell of a lot of Possessed and the weight of an occasional blast beat, makes way for the uniqueness of mid-to-late 80s deathrash.

There is, of course, a lot of familiarity in the sound of Mutilated from France. They were, in many ways, a product of their time.

The band began as Mutilator, in 1986, releasing the mostly thrash metal demo “Omens of Dark Fate”. But why stop at thrash? For so many young bands from the period and all over the world, thrash was a means to an end you couldn’t quite wrap your head around. Metal wasn’t just about speed anymore. It was about unpleasantries too.

In 87 the band changed their name to Mutilated and a year later released “Psychodeath Lunatics”, a title which sounds straight out of an 85-86 Slayer record.

It usually takes a special kind of fiber to open up an album/demo with the buzzing chaos of a guitar solo over everything else that’s going on, but when you’re fighting to stay in the race of playing crazy you either make a statement or you go home. There just wasn’t any other way to kick things off here.

The opening track, “The Crown of Death”, is pretty wild, and for a near five-minute-long song it goes by surprisingly fast. The thing that quickly strikes you is the drumming. To quote Vomitor, it’s tremendous insane. That is not a reflex of its technical prowess, it’s just that it’s positively commanding. You get down to it and there you see it: a mix of slayer-esque beats and blast beats permanently on the verge of crushing the songs to the ground. And best of all is that it’s not played to perfection or tirelessly edited. That’s fucking beautiful.

Morbid Angel gets thrown out a lot when people talk about Mutilated. I can’t listen to it on the first track, but I can’t argue about its influence on “Funerarium” and especially on the closer, “Hysterical Corpse Dislocation” (one heck of a name). Mutilated never quite reaches the quasi-avant-garde schizophrenic levels of heavy of old Morbid Angel, but that’s not to say this style was commonplace in 1988. “Psychodeath Lunatics” is as extreme as they come.

When “Funerarium” approaches its first minute there happens the inaugural moment of actual lunacy of the demo. The guitar runs free and the drums can do nothing but attempt to play catch up in glorious deathrash rage. That feeling persists ‘till the end of the song and is nicely articulated by the final moments of vocal delivery.

“Hysterical Corpse Dislocation” is the ace in the hole. The vomit-inducing punch to the stomach. Besides the now familiar traces of Possessed, Slayer and Morbid Angel, this track introduces the relentlessness of Repulsion and Napalm Death to the mix and is, by far, the most disjointed and rabid of the three songs. If you asked me to give you an example of an “extreme”, almost full blender, metal song done right this would be a proper ambassador of the music.

You listen to all the right things and thus you create something that is also right. It’s not always this linear, of course. But there’s merit to this notion and in the case of Mutilated it worked like a charm. The band’s influences led them to attempt a different stage of brutality and sonic horrors and, in the context of the time, “Psychodeath Lunatics” accomplished the mission while retaining the high energy of that ageless core thrash music. That’s probably why I’m writing about it so many years after the fact.

Their final 1991 demo “Resurrected” went for a darker sounding sort of straight Death Metal (again, a product of its time), vocals and all. Not only was it less “dangerous”, it was also a lot more clinical. Mutilated managed to garner the interest of Osmose and Peaceville, but the band leader, Michel Dumas, commented on an interview from a few years ago that he felt the band just wasn’t ready to release an album. And they never did. The band split-up in the early 90s and its members went to look for fresh starts in other projects, including Abyssals and, later, Act of Gods and The Seven Gates.

“Psychodeath Lunatics” was rereleased in 2013 by Triumph Ov Death from France on vinyl, and again in 2018 (the 30-year anniversary edition) on cassette. Those are probably easier to track than the original 1988 tape. There’s also the collection of live songs and rehearsals called “In Memoriam” released in 2013 by Triumph Ov Death. The compilation is still available for purchase on the label’s official store.

Past reviews

– 666 (CZE) | Nekrofilie, 1983
Hadez (PER) | Guerreros de la muerte, 1988
One Past Zero (GER) | Promo, 2018

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