Release DetailsLABEL Roadcrew Records
RELEASED ON 9/1/2009
posted on 1/2010 By:
Great metal is truly a global phenomenon these days, and there’s no better medicine to knock a reviewer out of a layoff malaise than to be taken by complete surprise by an album that seems to come out of nowhere. The band and label are Indian--obviously not the first name in metal. Then again, Rat King don’t have much use for conventions. Larva, the band’s second effort is a damn impressive work of avant-garde industrialism, coming off as something of a Nine Inch Nails meets Fantomas as interpreted by an act on the Cold Meat Industry roster (In Slaughter Natives comes to mind). That description may or not blow your hair back, but believe me when I say that this duo has the chops to get it right. These guys are as talented as the likes of Reznor when it comes to constructing lush layers of varied instrumentation and moods, and the underrated NIN album, The Fragile comes to mind several times during Larva, most obviously on "The Wake." But Rat King’s industrial alchemy includes a lot of avant-garde weaponry, and the combination bucks the common bias–that music that is avant-garde and essentially instrumental can be both highly listenable and memorable.
Larva flows seamlessly as an entire piece of work, varying from cavernous percussion to lush orchestration to occasional airy interludes of swirling ambience and stabbing discordance ("Spiracle"). The material doesn’t get samey like you’d think it might, as nearly all of the tracks are packed with lots of ideas packed from top to bottom. This band’s penchant for executing such a contrast of melodies is truly impressive, as they deftly arc from unsettling and sometimes chaotic melodies to serene and tuneful passages. The drum programming here is huge as well, designed to deal out absolute battery, but as often to provide groove, and to play heavily into Rat King’s ace in the hole–its Eastern flair. That element crops up throughout the record, but is most effectively evidenced in the tribalism of opener, "Egg", and the sultry, serpentine melodies during portions of "For Absent Gods".
There’s really not much to find fault with here, but the closest thing to a complaint is that the album runs just a tad long, as the last couple of songs don’t manage to leave the kind of mark the opening three quarters of the record does, although the synth heavy closer "Vapour" is the most effective of the bunch. It makes little difference though–if you’re at all moved by the nontraditional, Rat King is a band that demands your attention.
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