Jungle Rot – Jungle Rot (Victory Records)Wednesday, 18th July 2018
Consistency is the name of the game for veteran death metal act Jungle Rot. Slow and steady often wins the race even if the records come out every two to three years – as they were one of the impressive bands to win over the afternoon attendees during the final Mayhem Festival in 2015. This ninth studio platter happens to be self-titled – and why not, as these gentlemen serve up a hefty, expected helping of old school, groovy death metal with discernible vocals and thrash/hardcore inflection on these nine originals plus closing Kreator cover.
The steady diet of mid-tempo riffing and bouncy grooves along with guitarist Dave Matrise’s semi-hoarse hardcore-like bark (think a clearer John Tardy if put in the 80’s hardcore blender) makes “Triggered” and “Delusional Denial” two front half album favorites. Predictability in terms of where the half-time groove parts or faster transitions/ frenzied lead breaks take shape can be either an asset or deterrent to your listening preferences. For this record, it appears that Jungle Rot choose to really hone in on the strongest parts and assemble them in a crushing fashion for an experience that keeps the headbanging good times on high. “Fearmonger” even sees the band reaching out to Schmier of Destruction for a screaming vocal duet assist that befits the thrash-oriented feel of the arrangement. You can just imagine the synchronized slow-motion hair windmills throughout the verse passages for “Stay Dead”, while the churning riff train on “Pumped Full of Lead” gets in and out at a quick 2:24. Old school mechanics and execution remain Jungle Rot’s calling card, as if 1989-1993 are the preferred period of study for songwriting in the realms of death, hardcore, and thrash – and unwavering to that commitment yields some catchy grooves, segments, and effective track to track listening. It’s excellent to hear their take on “Terrible Certainty” to finish the record – as for my money, it’s one of Kreator’s best title tracks for it’s stairstep riff/vocal combination and total melodic to obliteration maneuvers.
This self-titled outing keeps the machine rolling for the band live – and probably won’t change the minds of many as to support. But that would be a shame, as for my money I’ll take primal songwriting to return to over something mechanized, triggered, or just technically savvy but ultimately tough to retain.