Grab your bayonets and lace up your combat boots. It’s time to go to war! Old school death metal troupe Mosfed of Davis, California charge into a blitzkrieg in their debut album Rattenkrieg. Dropped on June 6th, 2019, it gives a lesson in the history of combat and corrupt politics in nine original tracks (and one cover of King Diamond’s “The Family Ghost”), much like Mofsed’s idols Bolt Thrower.
Upon first listen, I was very wary of the subject matter, because metal bands that have a fascination with war, particularly World War II, tend to be low-key white supremacists. But I was relieved when reading the lines “Destroy the Third Reich / Total victory over Nazi Germany” in the lyrics of opening track “Rattenkrieg,” written from the perspective of the Allies.
The entire album is filled with specific dates and geographical references to famous conflicts, from both World Wars, going all the way back to Ancient Egypt in “Scroll of Ani.” Vocalist/guitarist Zakk Thonen sings in Arabic in the chorus “Silent As The Grave,” as he details holy wars in the Middle East. In “Tokkōtai,” Thonen describes the thought process of a kamikaze fighter. The ambient track “Grotesque Procession” uses a sample of a political speech in a language I don’t recognize, mixed in with cries of pain.
I don’t think any other band was forced to do this much homework. But for a subgenre oversaturated with songs about torture and necrophilia, it was a welcome intellectual change of pace.
Without a lyric sheet, the themes of war might be lost on listeners (though the album cover art makes it pretty obvious). Thonen sings in a low gurgling growl, similar to Jeff Walker of Carcass, with the exception of the final track, when Thonen imitates King Diamond’s high-pitched shrill to comical effect.
Mike Clements was brought in to record lead guitar and bass. His blistering solos gives Mofsed a thrashy quality, especially when Thonen joins in on the guitarmonies. Randy Teresi appropriately mimics the sound of machine guns with unrelenting blast beats and booming double kick drum.
There are some questionable production decisions, such as Teresi’s overpowering snare drum. But then again, production quality was never crucial in old school death metal; some of its most defining sounds came off of rehearsals tapes that were traded around the world. Overall, this is the most enjoyable release that I have reviewed for Bucketlist thus far, and I will likely continue listening to Mofsed long after this piece is published.
Written by Chris Aitkens
*edited by Mike Milito