JUNGLE ROT have been banging heads and unearthing bodies for 11 years now, commanding immense respect yet remaining criminally underrated. I had not had the pleasure of discovering this band until my recent run in with the “Darkness Foretold” EP which introduced me to a class old-school Death Metal act which pummeled the listener with a two-punch of SODOM and OBITUARY. The manic shredding unpredictable behavior of the compositions compelled me and left a wanton hole in my stomach begging for more. This is why “Warzone” has utterly failed me and will likely be spun less often than “The Mechanical Hand” in the future.
All of the comments levied at this release have been full of restrained praise over a project which has stuck to its roots for so long and continues to perform at a level of quality. Any and all negative comments afforded, concern the vain clinging to a sound for so long that it has become somewhat boring. Has anyone actually listened to this album besides this reviewer? Certainly no band can exist in a vacuum and must progress, even if subtle, over the course of its existence. What I do not understand is why progression universally equals groove and chugging guitars which go against the grain of Metal itself. Mid-paced Death Metal can be fucking spectacular; “Cause Of Death” is lethal enough to inflict maladaptive behavior to the point you will be shitting your diapers. “Warzone” is lethal enough that you might blister your index finger in furiously pounding the “skip” or “stop” button on your CD player.
Opener, “Victims Of Violence”, displays the album’s depravity and lack of integrity aptly. You have a weak as hell opening riff which is chugged in the realm of slow/mid-tempo with very deliberate and restrained drumming overly reliant on double-bass. Mix in catchy vocals to supplement the groove and you have a downright boring composition which belies this band’s ability to pen quality Death Metal. The pre-chorus and verse riff are a bit stronger and faintly surpass that mark of mediocrity the album so furiously clings to. The riffing and vocals found in the chorus would not be so damn cringe-inducing if they were not repeated several times throughout the track. “Cut In Two” is another fine example in keen misunderstanding as vocalist Dave Matrise rattles off the title of the track a dozen times further pounding that notion of repetition into your skull till you are fucking numb as a corpse.
Variation is not a tool of this band and only furthers to weigh the album down when your current shtick is nothing more than bland. Abundance in scope of tempo changes would have gone a long way in strengthening the overall tone of the compositions. Several instances scream for a blistering section or two as the songs die creatively long before their time runs out. There are a couple of instances when the band decides to think outside the confining box of the low end of the mid-paced spectrum, which births the flattering “Decapitated” which takes full advantage of a slower chorus without becoming too repetitive or boring. “Killing Spree” must also be noted as the finest composition on the album as it does a great job in cleaning the foul taste out of your mouth left by the previous handful of tracks. Quality is achieved here through articulated riffs which stand out and beg to be remembered.
JUNGLE ROT is still a top notch band which will be remembered for their early contributions to the genre. Unfortunately, “Warzone” is a flailing stab at Death Metal which is best classified as nothing more than average. One could certainly do worse with the current Metal scene, but that does nothing to thwart this band’s current rut of incompetence and complete lack of intensity or ingenuity. (Online July 27, 2006)