Rattenfanger – Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum (2012)


Made up of Drudkh members playing death metal, Rattenfanger are the quintessential modern case of all form and no substance. Couched in an obscure, pseudo-mystical aesthetic designed to appeal to the faction within metal listeners that buy into everything “occult”, this album betrays its lack of nuance as soon as the band reverts to conventional, unimaginative death/doom by the numbers. An immaculate, digital-sounding production doesn’t help the sort of vibe the band attempts to construct, ultimately leaving us with an album that seems confused at best and plain meandering otherwise.

Rattenfanger chiefly rely on various synth and arpeggiated odds and ends, and frequent degeneration into a sombre doom tempo to create atmosphere but the actual death metal is a hybrid of the bouncing rhythms of Autopsy and the very cliched grooving, quasi-exotic dynamics of a Behemoth, neither really suited to paint the world of images that the band’s thematic references would have one imagine. This is an album that seems curiously enervated, effectively little more than a rendering of various collages with no unifying fiber. The doom parts, in particular, are listless, containing no emotional content, and serving no discernible purpose other than padding song lengths. A device frequently used when bands run out of things to say, it requires minimal investment of creativity but still holds bands true to mass standards of darkness and heaviness. A win-win scenario, this, in a non-discriminating world.

Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum‘ s forty minutes pass by in a haze with no salvage in tow. It wouldn’t be so offensive either if not for the band’s dark pretensions clashing so discordantly with their bland music.

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