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Album Review: JUNGLE ROT Terror Regime

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Having been on Victory Records through an entire album cycle now, and with a cover of D.R.I.'s classic "I Don't Need Society" in the track listing for the new record, heads were abuzz with thoughts that Jungle Rot might just go full on 'core this time around. Yeah, not really. Terror Regime is if anything latter day Rot-by-numbers, mid-paced but never plodding, workmanlike to a near fault yet scrappy and not without a certain charm… there's a very specific itch that Jungle Rot scratches.

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I'm not gonna lie: I actually think Jungle Rot are one of the more overrated death metal bands right now. The hysteria peaked around two years ago with the release of Kill On Command, their first on Victory, who really seemed to promote the hell out of it, bankrolling music videos for two of its tracks and scoring them a supporting slot touring with Immolation. No doubt the added exposure assisted greatly in their overall visibility, but for me Kill On Command was a well-performed, competently written album with a pleasant visceral punch but limited shelf life.

Terror Regime conjures similar vibes, but with an added case of diminishing returns. "Utter Chaos" exemplifies the mixed appeal: faultlessly constructed and impressively dynamic, but nonetheless mired in flat vocals and riffs that we've frankly heard a million times before. Jungle Rot deliberately pattern themselves after Wolverine Blues-era death metal, that high water mark (sales-wise, anyway) where bands were steadily reducing their tempo in order to accommodate the groove-based riffs that were making Pantera and Machine Head famous.

It wasn't just a gimmick: many lasting classics came from that mid-90's period, but the sheer popularity of the style at the time meant that it was mercilessly exhausted before  the genre as a whole started gravitating back toward quicker tempos and a re-invigoration of brutality.

Jungle Rot position themselves directly in the midst of that generation-long glut, their primary appeal a nostalgic one, and to be fair this shit is veritable catnip for those that never got enough of mid-paced, groove-oriented death metal but have long since worn down the grooves in their Obituary and Vomitory discographies. It is, however, a deeply niche market, and even folks like me that enjoyed the style immensely at the time won't necessarily find ourselves reaching for it too often in 2013.

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Terror Regime is hardly a wash, though: Jungle Rot's strength is in their consistency, and even if all 35 minutes of this album strikes one as utterly predictable it never actually gets boring. Taken in isolation, songs like "I Am Hatred" and "Pronounced Dead" are more than worthy mixtape fodder. How often you feel like sitting down and absorbing the entire record is another question entirely, though.


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