Review: Rat King ‘Psychotic Reality’

A mischief of rats with their tails knotted together lie deceased draped over your refuse in the shape of a crown, all hail our glorious plague-ridden Rat King! No, this isn’t the deranged rambling of a mad man… but one of the literal definitions of the ‘Rat King’ whose grim visage is perfectly apt for this death grind act, and their latest record Psychotic Reality, which I have the pleasure of dissecting for you today. This grinding ode to toxicity and corruption of our doomed dying planet will be released via Satanik Royalty Records.

Rat King ‘Psychotic Reality’ Artwork
Rat King ‘Psychotic Reality’ Artwork

Citing influences like Sepultura, Death, Nasum and Brujeria, my interest was immediately peaked. Rat King take the grind, death and punk influences of these groups, especially Nasum, and then turn up the ferocity to 11, chuck in some Terrorizer, Repulsion, Assück and we are in the wheelhouse for Rat King’s sound. What’s also interesting about them is the influence from the band-members Latin heritages of Ecuador and Nicaragua and mixing that with their home surroundings in the metropolis that is Seattle, Washington.

Psychotic Reality doesn’t fuck around, there’s no needless instrumental, ambient, or acoustic introduction to the record, just pure unadulterated ferocity. Opener Tortured Existence sets the record ablaze with blast beats and a smörgåsbord of blistering riffs, chunky breakdowns and vicious vocals that perfectly capture the terrifying themes being spewed out by this thunderous trio. It’s clear to hear the group’s early roots were steeped in the sludge scene with the disgustingly abrasive tone they manage to conjure up, super nasty but in the best way.

blast beats and a smörgåsbord of blistering riffs, chunky breakdowns and vicious vocals…

The production by the band and engineering/mixing by Wyatt Harbaugh and Taylor Young at The Pit recording studio is just perfect, especially on the drums as the kick pedals sound like they are punching through concrete while the vocals sound like they are actually spilling out of your headphones as if vocalists, Danny Racines and brother Ricky, are grabbing you by the throat whilst showering you with their terrifying reality. This all just adds to that vicious atmosphere that’s being blasted at you at 500mph.

As the record progresses, it doesn’t slow down, tracks like Vermin serve to prove that grind songs don’t have to be thirty seconds and can be just as scathing and sick at three minutes long. The cohesion between the three members is clear to be heard and you just know this isn’t their first rodeo. It’s a really professional sounding record and not in a negative way, it’s still frayed at the edges and utterly caustic, but it’s just really well presented and put together.  Look, I’m not saying that Rat King have reinvented the wheel here and wouldn’t expect it to land on my end of year list, however, am I glad I checked it out… fuck yeah I am.

Label: Satanik Royalty Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify | Instagram

Scribed by: Matt Alexander