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Still rotting in an undeserved shallow grave - 83%

Gutterscream, February 9th, 2007
Written based on this version: 1986, Cassette, Independent (Alternate cover art)

“…we don’t care what you think, we’ll never change…”

Rather hotly traded and esteemed in more than just the band’s little (well, large) Texan space, Rotting Corpse was a four-piece that consisted of a future minor league superstar in Solitude Aeturnus doommaster John Perez, a guitarist known way more for wrestling huge, rotund riffs to the ground than his work with the speed bag. Despite being tagged a thrash band absolute, their debut demo comes fairly close to satisfying both worlds.

Thrash was far from being a warm glass of aesthetic atmosphere in ’86, and a list of albums released that year will not only cement the opinion in truth, but conclude that Rotting Corpse weren’t envisaging the future technical mindscapes the genre would propose shortly. Most of the material on War on Drugs is straight from the hip thrash whether it’s storming along or mixing speeds and rhythms salad-style, like an expert in only one aspect of a many-layered topic. Basically, the words ‘prowess’, ‘ingenuity’ and ‘fancy’ aren’t in danger of being used creatively here, but for this three-songer (and a band called Rotting Corpse), who needs ‘em?

Vicious “Rotting Corpse” is perilously close to fulfilling the spirit of the genre. Like the quintessentially thrash “Fight Fire With Fire” or "Take This Torch", it’s filled with scalding steam and enough raw, youthful energy to lay waste any YMCA. Starting deceptively humble with a half minute of crisp, single lane textbook riffs, it then hauls off like the frantic beast it is with a core of Agent Steel courage, urgent like a heart attack and picked like a mother, and then with a cry from voxman Mo it somehow shifts (during the solo) into a speed beyond the originally installed transmission. Things fluctuate for “Evil Slaughter”, a more temperamental track as far as personality goes as rhythms and velocity flip-flop with fairly generous abandon without venturing outside the box.

And a dissenting voice calls the title track to the witness stand. Revealed to the court is Perez’s impending proclivity for the doom nest, and the song takes on the aural shape of a more inartistic Solitude Aeturnus repetitious plod; hardly inventive and rather inessential, and at the most shows Perez’s horizon in the nearby distance. At the least it throws a roadblock in front of the demo's initial pacing, sometimes a good thing, but not here unfortunately.

Mo’s vocals are slightly hardcore-y when accompanying breakneck speeds, yelled and pummeled with ire, while for the slower stuff he takes his time and stoops down to a deeper gnarl. Both are a good fit for the occasion.

The three no-no words (War on Drugs) mentioned above wouldn’t seem as arcane on the band’s follow-up demo, the lucklessly-titled Fuck It, It’s Only Thrash. But as far as this goes, it’s got 1986’s stringent individuality, and that’s good enough for me.