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As cult black-metal LPs go, there is perhaps none more kvlt than Mütiilation's first album, Vampires of Black Imperial Blood. Originally released on CD in 1995, it was the first album issued by the Drakkar Productions label and first full-length to emerge from the mysterious French black-metal circle Les Légions Noires ("The Black Legions"). Other bands in the LLN included Vlad Tepes, Moëvöt and Torgeist — among many others — but Mütiilation was by far the most prolific and ultimately best known.
Founded by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Meyhna'ch (a.k.a. William Roussel) in 1991, Mütiilation announced their arrival with their first official release, a 1994 seven-inch entitled Hail Satanas We Are the Black Legions. But it's Vampires of Black Imperial Blood that would seal their place in black-metal history — and vinyl white-whaledom.
With Meyhna'ch on guitar and vocals, a bassist who called himself Mørdrëd and session drummer Krissagrazabeth (a.k.a. Kriss Auvenant), the album sounds like it was recorded in a dumpster beneath a stack of wet mattresses. A memorable 2008 newsletter from San Francisco's Aquarius Records said Vampires makes "Darkthrone sound downright hi-fi." (You'd also be forgiven for thinking that Krissagrazabeth was using a dinner plate for a snare.)
And yet, Vampires is oddly hypnotic. In fact, it's often credited with creating the subgenre of depressive black metal that came to prominence in the early aughts via one-man USBM recluse Xasthur (who even covered the title track), Sweden's Shining and, later, Ghost Bath.
Vampires wasn't released on vinyl until 1999, when France's End All Life Productions issued it on double LP in a limited gatefold edition of 100 hand-numbered copies. Due to its extreme rarity, it's come up for sale on Discogs just seven times since 2009, fetching anywhere from $734 to $2,000 depending on the condition. Then, in November 2020, a collector in Austria sold number 12/100 on eBay and pocketed $2,999.
Not bad for a lineup that wouldn't last out the year. After recording a post-Vampires demo with Mütiilation in '95, Krissagrazabeth returned to his other bands while Mordred went silent until 2005, when he played session bass for French black-metal obscurists Malcuidant before disappearing into the mists of time.