Empire of Rats - Empire of Rats
A389 Recordings
Hardcore
11 songs (24' 13")
Release year: 2013
Reviewed by Andy

Enthusiastically ready to damage some eardrums, Ohio-based Empire of Rats make an excellent start with their new self-titled LP. Normally I don't dip as much into the hardcore end of the pool, but on a whim I picked it out of the pile and I'm quite glad I did. Though has plenty of sludge and death influence on it, this album is also crisper than most hardcore acts I've heard and inherits quite a bit of the speed and clean attack of thrash metal, showing quite a bit of Slayer influence in many songs.

That cleanness is one of the first things one notices after the sound clip at the beginning of the album. The guitars complement each other and the drum-and-bass work in a solid, heavy mass with lots of palm-muting, and whenever they hit their heaviest and slowest, the pace speeds up into a thrashing frenzy that exchanges the crunching riffs for a faster, more streamlined sound that emphasizes lead guitar solos more. Untitled, one of my album favorites, plays out this way with great effect. While Society's Zero is also very thrashy, it gets some slow, almost groove-oriented portions in it before, inevitably, it speeds back up to a manic speed. And one can enjoy every minute of the ride, because the production on Empire of Rats is clean and well-mixed -- and loud, extending that loudness to every instrument on the album.

The vocals are harsh, rage-filled shouts, but controlled nonetheless and fairly easy to listen to. By tracks like We're Dead, however, it's somewhat to be regretted that there's so little variation in them. The guitar and drums, by contrast, -- though of course not changing style much -- are still capable of some variations, including some screaming guitar solos that offset the unceasing pounding present across almost the entire album. I say "almost" because Early Mourning, the final song, starts with a quiet, twangy picked melody for a while, and then a slow, doomy set of metal riffs with a high-pitched solo, which is an enjoyable change from the rest and shows what Empire of Rats can do when they take some time from their usual onslaught. I wish there were more tracks like this on the album; they are clearly capable of more diversity in their music, and it will be interesting to see how they evolve from here.

Empire of Rats straddles the metal and hardcore worlds quite effectively, and the results of their first efforts are pretty impressive. If one is looking forward to being assaulted by an angry, tightly crafted block of music with lots of crunchy guitar riffs, this will definitely fit the bill.

Killing Songs :
Untitled and Early Mourning are my favorites
Andy quoted 81 / 100
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