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Mutant was the studio side-project of Theory In Practice lead guitarist Peter Lake and drummer/vocalist Henrik Ohlsson. The studio project was started originally for both members to get away from the complex instrumentation and songwriting of their main band Theory In Practice. The duo opted for black metal as that genre was as far away imaginable from the music they wrote in their main band. This led to Mutant becoming a straightforward, high-speed black metal outfit that took a good deal of inspiration from the classic Norsecore works of Dark Funeral, Immortal and Marduk. Like the duo’s main band the newer Mutant songs also dealt with cosmic themes, alien lifeforms and government conspiracies, while the old tracks are more typical in terms of subject matter. Is “The Aeonic Majesty” a forgotten gem, a lost classic…. or isn't it?

“The Aeonic Majesty” doesn’t contain all new material. In fact more than half the record are re-furbished tracks from the band’s independently released 1998 demo “Eden Burnt to Ashes”.  ‘The Majestic Twelve’, ‘Premonitions Erupt’, the title track and ‘Immemorial Lunacy’ are entirely new and exclusive to this release. The guitar tone, drum production and bass guitar sound nearly identical to the main band, and while these new cuts are more elaborate, technical and generally more complex in architecture compared to those of the aforementioned demo, they are nothing when looking at the body of work from both men’s main band. Mutant play a slick, digitized and modern interpretation of the classic Scandinavian black metal sound of the mid-to-late 90s – and what they do different is exactly what made them so interesting, even if the sci-fi angle wasn’t new.

The keyboards have a prominent place in the glossy production yet they never serve as a lead instrument, as they mostly accentuate and follow the guitars. There are momentary synthesizer solo segments, but for the most part the keyboards are supplemental and only meant to create a haunting and otherworldly atmosphere. All studio drums were programmed and sequenced by guitarist Peter Lake, and thanks to the wonderful production and attention to detail these drums never feel programmed at any time. These digital drums sound very crunchy and organic, and through the incredible precision of its composer the fills, rolls, kick drums and cymbal crashes never feel artificial, not even in the blistering fast parts. The guitar tone and vocal style is similar to Theory In Practice’s third and final album “Colonizing the Sun”, which was to be released a year after this album and side-project. The bass guitar is less present with this record, although this has probably also to do with that it exclusively doubles the guitars.

In terms of composition the new tracks are more elaborate and ambitious. ‘The Majestic Twelve’ and ‘Premonitions Erupt’ head into a more technical and midpaced direction, especially the latter. Notable is that the new tracks also integrate emotive leads/solos, which was something that most old tracks avoided. ‘Premonitions Erupt’ actually borders on death metal territory in its slow grinding mid section, the acceleration and the wailing solo only serve to push it farther into that genre. Of the old tracks the H.P. Lovecraft inspired ‘Beyond Bet Durrabia’ stands out with its atmospheric Arabic synths, deformed spoken word, synth flutes and Middle-Eastern melodies. ‘The Aeonic Majesty’ is a much slower track of almost doom-like proportions. The hapsichord solo during this song gives it almost a medieval, or Victorian atmosphere, although the song lyrically has nothing to do with either of these two historic eras. It is a great and unexpected twist. Similarly is the extended bass guitar break in ‘Dark Spheres’ an incredible simple but effective device to break up the incessant blasting from the track as it adds unexpected sophistication and a level of finesse usually sorely missing from the genre as a whole.

Mutant wasn’t a typical black metal band in terms of imagery, and that only served to make them stand out from the faceless masses. The digitally rendered artwork by Polish artist Graal is nothing short of amazing. The booklet is beautifully handled with clearly eligible lyrics and production, while the stylized photography of both men exude professionalism and confidence in the material. The remainder of the booklet is adorned by the cover creature in various poses, and spiralling spinal columns which serve as a background image for the typesetting. Even though the lyrics of the older songs are more typically black metal, there isn’t a single pentagram, inverted cross or other such imagery and iconography to be found with Mutant. Which is only logical, because this unit was called Mutant, and the majority of its songs dealt with sci-fi and little else.

It is perhaps not surprising that Peter Lake and Henrik Ohlsson decided to lay the Mutant project to rest given the increasingly technical and elaborate nature of much of the new material present on this disc. This material was probably written and compiled in between songwriting sessions for Theory In Practice, who would release their third and final album “Colonizing the Sun” the year after. Had they continued Mutant, it would eventually have led to a watering down of both the main band and the side-project, as both started to share similar compositional traits and idiosyncracies. “The Aeonic Majesty” is a fascinating historical document in the sense that it gives an insight into how people you would normally not associate with black metal interpret it through their own visions and musical baggage. “The Aeonic Majesty” is competent, professionally self-produced, abrasive to a fault and majestic to the core. This album has it all in spades.

Is this a great record? Absolutely. Is it vital to own? Your mileage may vary on that.

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Tampa, Florida outfit Diabolic was what you call a “stock” death metal band. There’s nothing truly bad about them, but they aren’t the prime example of the genre either.  Their work is enjoyable and crafted with a respectable amount of skill and dexterity, yet nothing of it is ever truly remarkable, or vital to the genre. Inspired in equal amount by Slayer, Deicide and Morbid Angel, for a moment in the early 2000s, they were poised to become underground hopefuls. For they had everything one could possibly want at the time: Morbid Angel riffs, plenty of blasts and truly demonic looking Joe Petagno artwork. Fate decided otherwise, and the band dissolved as soon as it had arrived, leaving three sub-classic records in its wake, and a fourth last-ditch effort to revive the brand.  “Supreme Evil” is the first of three “classic” era albums, and the only in this constellation.

Yet as derivative as it is, there’s something uniquely terrifying about “Supreme Evil”. This was released only a year after the band had formed. Seldom does a band sound this convincing and together on a debut record. This was far more hungry, violent and aggressive sounding than any of the key Florida bands of the time, be they Deicide or Morbid Angel, as most obvious and direct comparisons. If anything, Diabolic was never the most original or gifted band on the scene. What they did, they did with gusto, muscle and professionalism – but does functionality mean formidability? No, of course not! “Supreme Evil” steals from the best, but at least knows why it is stealing from the sources that it does. This debut album is also unique in the sense that it is the only classic era recording to feature vocalist Paul Ouellette on rhythm guitar duties.

The meat of this album consists of ‘Sacrament Of Fiends’, ‘Grave Warnings’, ‘View With Abhorrence’, ‘Dwelling Spirits’ and the title cut. These tracks are overall better composed, more engrossing and more ambitious than the rest of the tracks. Through out the record there are numerous excellent leads/solos, but the riffing tends to be of the watered down variety. It is all sufficiently groovy, but workable arrangements and some truly effective dynamics, but on the whole it is too mundane sounding to be called good. There are throwaway tracks, a good deal of them. ‘Insacred’, ‘Ancient Hatred’ and partly ‘Wicked Inclination’ are lowly cuts that don’t really add a lot to the band’s established sound, nor does their presence elevate this debut album in any perceivable way.  Add to that the hoarse David Vincent (circa “Altars Of Madness”) bark of rhythm guitarist Paul Ouellette, and the interchangeable riffing (outside of the solos) by Malone - only Ed Webb’s thundering bass guitar redeems the compositions somewhat, but it is not heard often enough to be truly of any merit outside of providing bottom end heaviness.

Diabolic is centered around its two central figureheads/co-founders, lead guitarist Brian Malone and drummer Aantar Lee Coates. In the band’s classic era, it is the songwriting alchemy between Malone and Coates provided the band with its most respected material. Taking cues from early thrash metal (Coates) as well as Florida death metal (Malone) Diabolic is both easy to get into, and not too demanding in terms of arrangements, technicality and overall architecture. Ultimately, this is both to the band’s strength as it is a detriment. Despite all the muscle, percussive propulsion and speed, there isn’t a lot of substance to these songs – and the band as a whole. Diabolic exist at a crossroads, not as outright hellish as Krisiun, nor as thrashy as Angelcorpse or as esoteric as Morbid Angel. There are influences of all three, but these add up to nothing in particular. The pieces fit, and there’s a wonderful old school aestethic to the record, but that’s all positive that can be said about it. It sounds good and it ticks the required boxes, but that’s where things end. Diabolic is only a sum of its parts, but nothing more sadly.

“Supreme Evil” isn’t a vital record, nor a very remarkable one. It is solid in what it does, and internally consistent in regards to its concept and architecture. Diabolic wears its influences proud on its sleeves, and never aspires to more than aping its more popular regional forces. Its derivateness is endearing, but not enough to carry the band to the next level. It is not hard to see why this band never truly took off, or reached greater heights of popularity or commercial success. Diabolic are solid, but not exceptionally gifted or talented. The music does not warrant a greater status than that of a solid, reliable and somewhat mediocre sounding third-tier Florida death metal band.