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4.25 out of 5 skulls
January 15, 2014 | ,

Empire of Rats Empire of Rats

I’ve listened to a ton of metallic hardcore in my time. Whether it be from tough guys like Shattered Realm or social despondents like Blood For Blood, it’s a style of music that I have been a fan of for some time. It’s not a genre of music in which I am most knowledgeable, but it’s one that I thoroughly enjoy — especially when the music is dark, violent and heavy as hell. That’s exactly what Empire of Rats have with their self-titled debut full-length.

Empire of Rats is a group of Ohio natives that have been chugging away in various other bands like Palehorse, Under One Flag, Pitboss 2000 and many others so this isn’t some fly-by-night operation here. These guys have the experience and pedigree to deliver a solid cranium bashing like few others can. The album has a sound that echoes those bands that drew me into this style of hardcore. It’s thick, abrasive, heavy and filled with vehemence. Empire of Rats has been a long time in the making, but it more than makes its mark on the underground music scene.

“Leeches” gets the aural beat down rolling with monstrous riffage and heavy-handed drums. The opening twenty seconds or so is absolutely massive. The rest of the song is high paced, high energy and violent. Solid chugging riffs and barked vocals combine with rumbling bass lines to let you know what you’re in store for with the remaining tracks. Earth-shaking bass dominates “Another Minute in Hell” as a classic metallic hardcore riff permeates the air. This is the type of shit that I need blasting in my headphones when I hit the gym for heavy days.

Only one of the eleven on Empire of Rats goes past 2:30 in run time and that’s the album closer. Every other song hits hard as often and as aggressively as possible and then leaves at just the right time. There’s something to be said for brevity here. “Bottomless Pit” barely breaks the two minute mark, but packs so much vitriol and hatred in that short amount of time. it’s a standout song on the album. The mysteriously titled “Untitled,” hits hard with plenty of moshing groove. “Society’s Zero” is full of vengeance, chugging groove and a pretty sick lead before the guys devolve into a massive breakdown sure to fuel many pits in a live setting.

Other kickass songs that stand out for their level of skull-bashing aggression are the absolutely frenzied “Sinking” and the pile-driving, pissed-off “We’re Dead” which features an unhinged vocal delivery and rib bruising mosh. The combo of “Exposed” and album closer “Early Mourning” make for one hell of a one-two punch to wrap up what is sure to be a classic album. Empire of Rats is as bludgeoning and as fluid as a metallic hardcore album should be and I’ll be looking forward to many more releases from these guys.

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