Jungle Rot - Jungle Rot - (9/10)
Published on November 13, 2018
What statement is a band making when they decide their new album should be self-titled? Especially a band who have a sizeable output and an established reputation like Jungle Rot. Well if this, their tenth full-length record, is making any statement – it’s something along the lines of ‘look how amazing we still are’. Since the mid-nineties, the Wisconsin-based death metallers have consistently cranked out album after album of raw, straightforward old school death metal in the same vein as Obituary, Bolt Thrower etc. And I, for one, would never want them to stray one inch from their modus operandi. When the songwriting quality is as strong as is displayed on Jungle Rot, I only wish they will continue down this path like the pummelling steamroller they are. And trust me, this album will pummel you…
Coming right off the heels of 2015’s splendid Order Shall Prevail, this album succeeds by enhancing every aspect of that record just a little bit. The production is distinctly beefier, with chunkier guitar tones and thicker textures – like that wailing lead guitar that drones over the top of many of the riffs. It’s enough to convince any fan that this is more than just a trio. Woe betide the bands who require three guitarists to sound heavy – Jungle Rot show ’em how to slay! Jesse Beahler’s drums are a rock-solid pillar of excellence, equally comfortable at both high velocity and stomping grooves. Dave Matrise’s vocals also sound more wholesome and full here, making the most of venomous lyrics like “We will not stay fucking dead!” and “Twelve gauge pump action fury, point blank to the back of your head!”. Come on, that’s death metal gold!
Admittedly, some tracks on Jungle Rot wouldn’t sound out of place on a Hatebreed album – but these are actually my favourite moments. Sure, the multi-riff monster “Send Forth Oblivion” is the perfect opener, cycling through about 4 riffs before the vocals even appear, but it’s the segments of slow pounding where this album shines. After a generally upbeat first half, the album pulls a masterstroke with the weighty trio of “Stay Dead”, “Glory For The Fallen” and “Pumped Full Of Lead”. Huge hulking riffs, memorable refrains and seriously infectious grooves – this was an ingenious move. The closing track “Twisted Mind” phones in the quality and memorability a little, which is a shame, but luckily the ‘Rot throw in a Kreator cover to liven up proceedings once more! Usually, I glance over covers at the ends of albums but this is excellently arranged and makes the Teutonic giants’ “Terrible Certainty” sound like it was a JR tune all along!
Speaking of German thrash, track five “Fearmonger” features none other than Destruction’s Schmier on guest vocals! After Max Cavalera appeared on the previous LP, this is a wonderful surprise and he is well used. The riff-writing displays creativity with a minimal arsenal of E-string chugging. The main riffs to most songs are irresistible, especially the martial headbang heaven that is “Glory For The Fallen”, and the hammering opening to “Delusional Denial”. I won’t go into any more specifics. For fuck’s sake, this is Jungle Rot – you know what to expect. This is meat & potatoes death metal of the very best kind. Having a self-titled album this far into their career isn’t making a statement of any kind, they’re just trying to make your neck ache (and veritably succeeding). I thought Skeletal Remains had me sorted for ‘death metal album of the year’ – but Jungle Rot just won’t stay fucking dead!