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Right from the get-go, you can sense that this is a very ambitious release. Hell, it has to be, with guest vocals from the likes of Martin Van Drunen and Dan Swano (who also mixed and mastered the album, mind you). This is Lay Down Rotten's fifth album and unfortunately this is also the first album I've heard from the band. Don't ask me why, but I tend to shy away from bands signed onto (with respect to the metal scene) big metal labels and that's probably the reason I never listened to Lay Down Rotten before. But hey, what can you expect from a guy who's yet to hear Nile and Fear Factory and jacks off to Mordicus and Infester?
But for all their ambition, the band falls short in some respects. This album really does have what you'd expect from a modern pseudo-melodic death metal release. Killer riffage, amazing solos, consistent vocals, drums that switch gears, and whatnot but there's just something missing here. There are some filler songs here, that come right after the amazing first track but after those fillers the music is of good quality, getting better as the album progresses. The thing that really kills my enjoyment here is the slow chugging thrashy riffs. They lack variety and just seem to be dragging the music along, not contributing to the songs in any particular way. Most of the time, these riffs just feel as variations of each other which makes me feel very frustrated, in a way. However, the band has a knack for writing some mind-blowing melodies and it saves the day here. The title track is a perfect example of what this band can do with their melodies. Additionally, the songs have a sing-along tone to them at times, especially as the album progresses further (after the 4th track), when the more positive aspects become prominent and the cons become like dust under a rug.
Production here is way brutal, the guitar has a muffled chainsaw vibe to it and being a huge Stockholm death metal fan, I can always appreciate it when a modern band uses a similar guitar tone. The drums have a delightful punch to them and it really suits the guitar tone, gives a somewhat bouncy feeling at times, as if the drums are pulling the guitars down and then letting them back into the air... Yeah, I have an over-active imagination, I know. Another thing to note here is how the songs are given a sudden boost of energy whenever one of the 3 guest vocalists appear, especially when the death metal god Martin Van Drunen lends his ghastly voice in the title track!
All things considered, this is a good modern death metal album, that maximizes the pro's of this genre but also suffers from the same problems that plague other modern-day death metal albums. It's a grower for sure, and I'm definitely going to check out this band's past releases now.
(originally written for archaic-magazine.com)