It may sound like a contradiction, but everything that makes people hate death metal explains why it totally rules. It's obnoxious, loud, and dark. A lot of music fans are repelled by this sound, along with the often gruesome or upsetting subject matter that goes along with it. Yet, it's these same elements that feed that inexplicable craving for brutality shared by all fans of this insane music. And if you're feeling extra hungry today, Cerebral Rot has quite the dish in store for you.
The band's glorious debut album comes to us via 20 Buck Spin, the label which is spearheading a renaissance in death metal in 2019. The label has already struck gold with Ossuarium and Tomb Mold, and Odious Descent Into Decay is yet another gem in its crown. For fans of especially dirty and menacing death metal, this record would be the greatest jewel of them all.
To keep with the culinary metaphor, think of this album like a fantastic Thanksgiving meal of crushing brutality. There is pretty much everything on the table here: punishing drum work (potatoes?), indecipherable guttural vocals (the turkey?), full-sounding bass (gravy?), catchy and memorable guitar riffs (the stuffing, of course, because that's indisputably the best part—don't @ me). It's one of the most satisfying death metal albums to come out in 2019, perhaps even in the last 5 years.
It's hard to put into words the near-perfection on display. The music just comes together so well from beginning to end, which speaks volumes about the band's compositional talent. This isn't just a series of riffs and blasting parts tossed together into an "album," everything is in its right place. The double-bass drums come in at the exact right moment on the title track. The chords hit at the perfect spots on "Reeking Septic Mass." And the low-as-all-hell vocals feel so right on "Repulsive Infestation of Cadaver." Why is this so important? Sure, you could make some pretty okay death metal just mashing some cool sounds together, but if you want to make listeners jump out of their seat and pound their fists, you need to create those moments that stick with you.
In terms of their influences, a few names come out right away. There's definitely a lot of Incantation in the riffs, but the song and beat structure have Bolt Thrower written all over it. There are shades of Grave here as well, along with a general echo of Convulse and other classic Finnish bands. In other words, Cerebral Rot has really good taste and knows how to effectively blend sounds into a wicked brew all their own.
There's only one thing stopping this album from being a completely untouchable masterpiece: it's a little too consistent in its approach. I get that's kind of the point, but it holds the experience back just a smidge. An extra ingredient would have helped a bit: the occasional super-fast blast beat (cranberry sauce?). This occasional shock to the listener gets the blood pumping and would help break up the tempo if not overdone. In other words, a small serving of Imprecation, Drawn and Quartered, and Blaspherian would make a great addition to an already fantastic sound.
Regardless, Odious Descent Into Decay is one of the best death metal albums of the year thus far. If you like your death metal thick, filthy and dark (and you should), you need this album in your life. Also, I just love any band with the audacity to name a song after themselves AND their album—ALL IN ONE PLACE. That's a real power move right there.
Favorite songs: "Odious Descent Into Decay," "Swamped in Festering Excrementia," "Reeking Septic Mass," and "Repulsive Infestation of Cadaver"