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Rattenfänger - Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum review

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Band: Rattenfänger
Album: Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum
Release date: November 2012

01. Coelo Affixus Sed Terris Omnibus Sparsus (Intro)
02. Grimorium Verum
03. Victa Lacet Virtus
04. Nunc Scio Tenebris Lux
05. Allegoria De Gula Et Luxuria
06. Clausae Patent
07. Deest Remedii Locus, Ubi, Quae Vitia Fuerunt, Mores Fiunt
08. Regno, Regnavi, Regnabo

I have a deep and certain respect for sibling projects, specifically when the projects are entirely identical line-ups performing vastly different styles of metal. The conscious effort to separate ideas entirely and allow them to evolve into their own entities and identities is, in my eyes, a far more commendable approach than intermingling the ideas into a singular project. This sort of experimentation often ends up sounding muddled and disjointed when the overly-ambitious hodgepodge of stylings get in their own way. We see a definitive aptitude and versatility here from a quartet of legendary Ukranian metallers. While Rattenfänger may be a relatively (or entirely) unfamiliar name to dabblers and devotees alike, even the least-initiated of metal-goers will likely recognize the name of their highly praised older sibling?Drudkh.

In the early 2000s, Drudkh's inaugural release and some of their equally lauded sequentials would perhaps not set, but certainly expand upon, the standard by which atmospheric black metal releases are measured. Widely regarded as masters of their initial craft, it seems the gang is deeply unsatisfied in pigeonholing themselves. The emergence of Rattenfänger's debut effort in 2012 saw the Ukranians try their hand in an aberrant approach to old-school death metal musings.

Aside from the faces behind the name, there's very little of Drudkh to be found and that, in and of itself, was enough?at least at face value?to sell Rattenfänger's credibility as a freestanding project. While the barebones premise remains wholly similar, with heavy influence placed upon atmosphere and texture, the approach is entirely reworked. From the folkloric inspirations and thematics to the style and sound, this album is dark and dripping with nightmarish dread and aggression. While Rattenfänger serves up death metal that's unabashedly old-school in nature, it's tinged with anomalous affixtures. Brooding synthwork sets the tone as it opens the album and presents itself sparsely and sparingly throughout the duration of the album. Tempos are checked and tamed as the album finds itself comfortable to dwell in mid-paced, world-shaking riffs and grooves; emphasis on an abysmal and leaden gloom deters the compositions from ever becoming reliant on speed as a means of brutality. While we are not utterly deprived of blasts or tremolo-laden riffing, Rattenfänger exudes an undeniable propensity to pulverize with the unchecked vitriol and vigor of a bestial stomping. Latin scriptures rumble with otherworldly force through the terrifyingly impressive (and impressively terrifying) Hellish bellows of frontman/guitarist Roman Saenko. The production is damp and murky, and cavernous reverb adds a sort of plutonian depth to its render; however, the mixing remains vigilant in preserving the integrity of the compositions and we see no vital instrumentations lost in the void of their own creation.

It is easy to make the ham-handed comparisons between Rattenfänger and Drudkh (or the lesser-praised siblings), but I'd find it to be undignified. To say that, comparatively, one is better than another is a folly in and of itself because neither (or none) of the compared are comparable. Rattenfänger seeks to be neither an extension nor continuation of any of its siblings, and the assertation of such is immediate and indubitable. Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum is a beast of its own creation, and a host unto itself. I find it to be neither revolutionary, nor redundant. It is old-school death metal, but fashioned with the defining Slavic grit and despondency that etched the quartet's names in immortality. Rattenfänger's debut may never find itself in conversations of quintessence, but it is nevertheless a notch above par and a genuinely enjoyable effort.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 9
Production: 8

Written by brimarsh | 28.08.2020

Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.


Comments: 4   Visited by: 15 users
28.08.2020 - 16:20
Rating: 9

Nice review! Rattenfanger was in the staff picks here years ago, and I took up the recommendation. I liked Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum a lot, Geisslerlieder even better, and have been surprised I haven't heard more talk about them. Nice to see these guys get some props. Thanks!
28.08.2020 - 16:40
Rating: 8

I've been a fan of Rattenfanger for years. I'm not particularly big on death metal, but Rattenfanger just has such a great feel to their music.

I'm working on a Geisslerlieder review as well, but it keeps falling behind other projects. I definitely felt like Geisslerlieder was a huge step up from EOV, which is saying a lot given the solidity of it; but, EOV, I think, suffers from a few cliches. The cavernous production certainly fits it quite perfectly, but that kind of became the trademark for this new wave of OSDM bands. Geisslerlieder alleviated a lot of the minor issues EOV had. It really is a crushingly good album.

Thank you for taking the time to read though! I hope to get my Geisslerlieder review finished up within the next week or so for submission.
29.08.2020 - 13:28
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
I like sibilings, like I told Metalhead masters 5 or more getes. So far i like singers sings different genres, but whole band is even better
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
29.08.2020 - 19:24
Rating: 8

Written by Bad English on 29.08.2020 at 13:28

I like sibilings, like I told Metalhead masters 5 or more getes. So far i like singers sings different genres, but whole band is even better

It was really impressive hearing such a different side of their creativity with Rattenfanger. They're extremely talented dudes.

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