Review: Inhuman Condition – Rat˚God
Many readers on this site will agree that early-‘90s Florida death metal is pretty fucking good. And yet, as we get further into this new wave of old-school death metal, people are getting tired of retreads. There are only so many madlibs of SOMETHING OCCULT + SOMETHING DISGUSTING you can possibly have, and there are only so many “cavernous,” “putrid” albums a small scene can handle. While bands like Death can and should inspire, it feels—to me at least—like the world in 2021 needs less Leprosy and more The Sound of Perseverance.
Into this crowded, impatient OSDM fray enters Inhuman Condition.
Inhuman Condition is different in pedigree—this isn’t a collection of 20-something crusties from Portland, but a grizzled cast of veterans featuring ex-Death Terry Butler (also ex-Obituary, Six Feet Under, ex-Massacre, and and and) on bass. Fellow Massacre alumni Taylor Nordberg (guitar) and Jeramie Kling (drums and vocals) round out the group. The name “Inhuman Condition” is actually derived from a 1992 Massacre EP, and on their debut LP Rat˚God, they even poach the EP’s font for their own logo.
If this isn’t the oldest of old-school, I don’t know what is. I had high hopes going in. But the question a band like this must invariably answer is why make this album when there are already dozens, even hundreds like it, including the one the band is named after? Unfortunately, Rat˚God doesn’t contain much of an answer.
Rat˚God is pure early ‘90s in songwriting, tone, and (in some ways) production. Terry Butler’s biggest credit with Death was Spiritual Healing, and Rat˚God draws on similar sonic inspiration. Unlike Spiritual Healing, though, Rat˚God is rather sparse. In other words, there’s more Death than Chuck Schuldiner on this record. For starters, “Euphoriphobia” opens with a customary howl, but afterward the vocals settle into the middle register for pretty much the rest of the record. Then, on “The Neck Step,” we get some fun, fast chugging but no real payoff.
Listeners have to wait until “Planetary Paroxysm” for a transcendent guitar solo (which is also on the short side), and then until “Tyrantula” for some nice pattering toms to kick things off. In a word, Rat˚God lacks variety. (Also, I find the “˚” in the title inexplicable and weird. There, I said it.)
There are some really fun moments here. The aforementioned “Tyrantula” changes pace from mid-tempo to pit-forming nicely. Ironically, “Crown of Mediocrity” is perhaps the record’s strongest track, with excellent drums throughout. Closer “Fait accompli” contains moments of guitar that spiral out from within the chugs. Make no mistake, Inhuman Condition is a talented trio. But Rat˚God could use more dynamism and melody, or just maybe three or four fewer songs. Something like this would work better as an EP—an EP called, say, Inhuman Condition.
Essentially, what I’m saying here is Inhuman Condition feels like a return to form for Massacre. If you want to pretend Promise never happened, and/or Spiritual Healing is your favorite Death LP, you should check out Rat˚God. If not, go listen to Sound of Perseverance again. It slaps.
2/5 FLAMING TOILETS OF HELL
Rat˚God is out tomorrow on Bandcamp.