Inhuman Condition
Rat°God

Well, if this isn’t a pleasant surprise, then I don’t know what one is. I’m not quite sure how I missed and/or forgot about any hype surrounding the release of Inhuman Condition‘s debut album Rat°God. I mean hell, the band literally released four singles from said debut and I never heard one of them until I cracked open Rat°God in its entirety for the first time. That’s okay though because after listening to Rat°God quite a few times I can say with certainty that the album is best experienced as whole as opposed to some teaser tracks, and I’m actually thankful that it worked out that way for me as Rat°God is one hell of a good listen and (finally) a good follow-up to the much praised Massacre debut, From Beyond and as well as Denial Fiend‘s They Rise.

Okay, lets get a couple of things sorted out before we go any further. Yes, I do know that both Massacre and Denial Fiend both have had actual follow-up albums to their excellent debuts, but lets face it, for the most part they were shit. While Massacre did release the cool and promising Inhuman Condition EP, the band totally flaked and flopped with their sophomore album Promise. Though the album isn’t as bad as it has been panned for all these years, it isn’t good either. Thankfully, the Massacre name would see rectification, damn near twenty years later, with Back from Beyond, a really good, yet not necessarily a great album. If anything, I think Back from Beyond‘s songs suffered from not having enough of their own identity and individual flair to them.

Anyways, I say Massacre‘s Promise isn’t as bad as it has been labeled all these years for one reason, the existence of Denial Fiend‘s album Horror Holocaust. Now that my friends is one big fucking turd of an album. I was a big fan of the debut They Rise, but everything that Horror Holocaust could have been was destroyed with the departure of  Kam Lee and the addition of  The Accused‘s Blaine Cook. I don’t care what you say, that dude’s vocals on Horror Holocaust are some of the most annoying, ear grating audible diarrhea this side of the Milky Way.

The reason I bring all of this up is literally relative. Since the release of 2014’s Back from Beyond album, Massacre has gone through a few different lineups and even name changes due to legality issues over who owned and had rights to the band’s name/moniker. Without going into all of the drama related to that issue, I’ll just state that eventually legal rights were awarded to Kam Lee for usage and continuation of the Massacre name. At some point during everything, Jeramie Kling and Taylor Nordberg, both of The Absence, GoreGäng, Ribspreader, and Infernaeon, just to name a few, had joined up with Kam and penned an album of material intended for a new Massacre release. Yadda yadda yadda, more drama, yadda yadda yadda, and Kling and Nordberg leave Massacre, taking their material with them.

Fast forward a tad bit and the duo of Kling and Nordberg, not wanting their material to go to waste, recruit the most logical choice in the universe for a bassist, Terry Butler (Death, Massacre, Six Feet Under, Obituary, Denial Fiend). While keeping with the fact that this was supposed to be a new Massacre album, the trio adopts the moniker Inhuman Condition from the 1992 Massacre EP release. Hell, they even use the same  classic styled Massacre font for their logo as well. At first, I didn’t really respond well to the name or use of the font as I figured a band should just move on and forge their own path as oppossed to poking the bear so-to-speak, but after endulging in the sounds of  Rat°God for the past week before penning these words my sentiments have totally changed. Like I mentioned earlier, this my friends is the follow-up to both From Beyond   and even They Rise that we deserved. Maybe that’s a bit pompous of me to say, but that’s how strong of an album I believe  Rat°God is.

Now don’t get me wrong or misconstrue what I’m saying. By no means is there anything found on  Rat°God that you haven’t heard elsewhere, many times over actually, but what is found on the album is so good and genuine feeling that I’m damn near dumbfounded. It’s almost like being thrown back in time when the opening one-two step of rhythm, beat and roar combine immediately in album opener “Euphoriphobia”. Just a dozen seconds in and you’re already getting treated to a mighty fine ripping lead in the Rick Rozz/Allen West vein, followed by some pretty great vocal work of Kling, his vocals falling somewhere in between Massacre vocalist’s Kam Lee and Ed Webb. At about the half-way point the song shifts into a heavily “Legion of Doom”/”L.O.D.(Death/Denial Fiend) influenced riff of headbanging mastery.  The track, picking back up in death thrashing tempo  throws out another Rozz/West burst of lead and quickly sees itself out in fine brutalic form.

Follow up, “The Neck Step”is a heavy, groove laden, old-school deathster. Again both the Massacre and Denial Fiend vibe can be felt in this track. It’s nothing mind blowing but it’s catchy and satisfying. It’s almost like everything you always wanted a Six Feet Under track to be, but never really got to experience in aces. “Planetary Paroxysm” follows in similar suit with its headbanging inducing capabilities. The track pulls off a bit of an Obituary-ish vibe close to the two minute mark, showcasing a pretty nice old-school flavored solo that would have fit comfortably on Slowly We Rot.

As you can imagine, the rest of the album walks the same left hand path that the salvo of the opening one, two, three, track punch of  Rat°God establishes. After multiple listens I still can’t decide if the album has a necessary highlight. Honestly, there’s something I dig about each track, from the overt Denial Fiend/The Grotesquery groove crush of “Tyrantula”, which happens to feature a guest solo by Rick Rozz himself, to the title track  “Rat God”, that for some reason comes off to me as being the least Massacre/Lee influenced of all the album’s tracks, though it retains every bit of an authentic old-school flair, to the upbeat  death shuffle of “Killing Pace”, featuring lyrics from Cannibal Corpse‘s Paul Mazurkiewicz or “Gravebound” and its heavily reeking of 1988 Death. Closing out Rat°God are “Crown of Mediocrity” and “Fait Accompli”, a pair of , you guessed it, old-school death metal à la Massacre and Leprosy-era Death. Both are more than enjoyable slabs of death metal, though closer “Fait Accompli” has that fat groove and  tasty solo work that made late eighties/early ’90s death metal so fantastic, and is a great choice for being the album closer.

Tie all of this impressive new, by way of old, metal splendor together with some great cover art courtesy of Dan Goldsworthy (Alestorm, Sylosis, Xentrix, Gloryhammer), that summons and recalls the classic Repka-era works, along with a perfect production for the material, and what we have here is a really damn good piece of metal. It may not have a bone of originality to it, but let’s be honest, it’s not supposed to. It’s supposed to kick your ass and provide a good time doing it, and in that aspect Rat°God is more than a success. It’s obvious that Inhuman Condition knew that they weren’t going to get away from the connection that the Rat°God material has/had with Kam Lee and Massacre; to name your band after a somewhat seminal EP of said band and even style your moniker the same is bold and brazen to say the least. Though after spending my fair share of time with Inhuman Condition I have to say I get it, I really do; especially when you take in the consideration that the current incarnation of Massacre, while impressive in its own right, is as about as far way from Floridian death metal as you can get.

Regardless, Inhuman Condition crafted a fine album of retro bliss in  Rat°God. It’s not original, and sometimes you could damn near call it plagiaristic, but who gives a flying rat(god’s) ass. It’s good, it’s fun, and it makes me feel nostalgic and youthful by simply hitting the play button. If you can’t find something likeable about the band then maybe you should consider taking yourself a bit less seriously, as this isn’t death metal for uptight elitists. Having said all that, I am curious to see where Inhuman Condition goes from here. I guess we’re just going to have to wait and see whether this is just a one time affair or turns into a Gruesome type situation. Either way, for the here and now  Rat°God slays.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kristofor Allred
July 1st, 2021

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