Lay Down Rotten – Mask of Malice (Metal Blade Records)

Sunday, 24th March 2013
Rating: 7/10

“Meat and potatoes” death metal should have its own category. Seriously, we use the term enough and it applies to such a high volume of bands, that it should be used as frequently as Norwegian black metal or Swedish death metal. It’s an all-encompassing term without having to get into specifics, it’s neither negative or positive…it’s just good ‘ole fashioned meat and potatoes death metal. Don’t hold the gravy, either.

Now into their 12th year of existence, Germany’s Lay Down Rotten are one of the prime examples of death metal of the meat and potatoes variety. They’re not technical, not overly melodic, and don’t allow for any doom ideas to impede their creative process. Therefore, the bulk of Mask of Malice (the band’s eighth full-length) sees the band put its head down, rely heavily on pounding the E-string with tremolo picking, all the while tossing in the occasional melody when the time is ripe.

The relatively un-complex nature of songs like “A Darker Side of Hatred,” “Death Chain,” and “Hades Resurrected” have a military tank-styled rumble and roar to them, especially when the band gets squared away and lets the d-beats rip it up. Naturally, there’s little to separate each track from each running, as most have bleed through and too many similarities, although “La Serpenta Canta” might be the best song of the lot thanks to its unbridled intensity and homage to early-90’s Dismember.

Death metal’s vast and storied history has proved that brutality over technicality wins every time, meaning that for Lay Down Rotten, their chances of survival are relatively high. Given that they’ve been hanging around since 1999, Lay Down Rotten have proven they are survivors. Maybe next time they can come up with something that goes beyond the realms of being simply average.

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