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Earth Rot - Black Tides of Obscurity Award winner

Earth Rot
Black Tides of Obscurity
by Chris Hawkins at 06 April 2020, 11:05 PM

Often, one finds it difficult to pick out the album most fitting the current mood to listen to.  As wide as the chasm is that separates often disparate sub-genres of our beloved Heavy Metal, the matter of choice tends to be very specific.  EARTH ROT, however, are a band that successfully cater to myriad moods and in many ways, are the most ideal prescription for the current climate pervading the world in this pandemic-affected time.  Formed back in 2013, the Australian band released their third full-length, “Black Tides of Obscurity” last month and it is one intense experience.  No longer do you have to choose between GRAVE or EMPEROR – this band truly does it all!

The first track, “Dread Rebirth," begins innocuously but soon a fiery melee of minor chords ensues, a storm of Black Metal rage that suddenly coincides with a DISMEMBER-like pulverizing approach for a sound with deep roots unafraid to blend melody with raw aggression.  After a melodic interlude replete with a soulful, heavily emotive solo to make the hair on your arms stand on end, the flood gates are unleashed, and the band forcefully explores the darker side of their creative intuition with a generous nod to DISSECTION.  The music is not overly complicated, but it is in the arrangement where their collective genius is exposed.  “New Horns” is a highly effective – and affecting – follow-up to the precedent created.  The blackened atmosphere is oppressive, choking, suffocating, and, in a style apparently unique to EARTH ROT, a haunting almost bluesy solo breaks up the monotony, or rather, prevents it.  It is a convincing tool to allow such dramatic shifts in approach; therefore, the more frantic, blasting parts seem even more urgent while palm-muted rhythmic sections become much more violent and visceral.

Throughout the course of the album the band hails the primacy of the song.  Each is approached as its own unique entity appropriately colored with tasty changes, peaks and valleys that make it flow like a proper album.  The production provides the setting to properly deliver the vision behind the music.  The guitar sound is like a wall of grimy, contentious, belligerence that clearly articulates parts that vary from frantic tremolo-picking to meaty, more rhythmic affairs.  The bass works in tandem to actually beef up the guitar sound without losing its own grungy, yet powerfully resounding role in the process.  The drummer is a Metal hero, providing the artillery needed for the band’s war-like offensive.  It is in those few extra taps of the bass drum here and quick strikes of the splash cymbal there that the drummer puts his own unique stamp upon the music.  Vocally, there is a duality at play where at times there is a more forceful attack while at other points, there is a sludgier filth at play.

Towards a Godless Shrine,” the third track, is honestly one of the best brutal songs I’ve heard yet this year, full of overwhelmingly powerful riffs and a militant sense of groove.  The fifth track, “Ancestral Vengeance,” begins with a siren reminiscent to those that rang out during the blitz of London.  The band comes in with a furious onslaught of intricacy and hauntingly chilling chords that echo the mid to late ‘90s.  The band knows how to let chords ring out, though, how to truly let the music breathe which proves effective in the delivery of the more frantic, diabolical passages.  The following track, “The Cape of Storms,” maintains the precedent established with a reminder that it was Iommi’s flat-fifth that set this Metal world in motion.  The middle section lets the bass take center stage briefly before the band brings out a heavily syncopated breakdown section.  The groove grows and grows and soon, they have convened on a huge slab of Pentatonic-derived SABBATH worship that owes more to Pepper Keenan and Kirk Windstein than Swedish Death Metal though they do make sure to end things on a chaotic arpeggio of bemired fury.

Ultimately, the genius behind the music is the consuming blend of Stockholm-defined Swedish Death Metal, heavy-handed syncopation, and finally, just the right amount of second wave melodic Black Metal.  Their influences are laid bare, but in the assembly of the songs, originality is achieved, far beyond simply throwing ENTOMBED and NAGLFAR in a blender.  No, this is not some contrived affair but rather, an extension of inspired talent pulled deep from within the ether, reflections of the past yet pointed toward the future on a campaign to further the achievements of their heroes.  This is not to be missed!

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Dread Rebirth
2. New Horns
3. Towards a Godless Shrine
4. Unparalleled Gateways to Higher Obliteration
5. Ancestral Vengeance
6. The Cape of Storms
7. Serpent’s Ocean
8. Mind Killer
9. Unravelling Vapor of Sanity
10. Out in the Cold
Tom Slaughterhouse – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Jared Bridgeman – Lead Vocals, Bass
Colin Dickie – Guitars
D. J. Maloney – Drums
Record Label: Season of Mist


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