I've never really thought of Germany as a country that produces Death Metal bands. Gothic Metal and Power Metal and even Thrash Metal but not Death Metal. Yeah I know it's silly to think like that but anyway this month has brought me to see things in a new light. Recently I had the pleasure of hearing the German Brutal Death Metal band DEBAUCHERY and their debut and now here is LAY DOWN ROTTEN with, surprise, surprise, their debut also. Mark my words there's something strange going on in that weird country.
LAY DOWN ROTTEN could be described as a Melodic Death Metal band. Especially the guitar runs here could be from any Swedish Melodic Death Metal band. SOILWORK, ARCH ENEMY and AT THE GATES in particular come to mind. The starting riff of "Beautiful Brutality" is straight from some "Slaughter Of The Soul" song but I just can't remember which. Actually the whole song has a lot in common with AT THE GATES. And oh god is that a great thing or what! But what the heck is "Mirinda"? Why put a one and a half minute long sample from some Spanish (I presume) movie in there? Interlude perhaps but I would have been much more pleased with an acoustic interlude or something like that. OK that may have been too strong a nod towards AT THE GATES but goddamnit…
Well at least it's quickly gone by. "Lost Time" is a very nice track with a lot of chugging guitars but which quickly slows down to pounding drums and a dreamy riff before coming back slower but heavier than in the start and ending the song in a nice burst of speed. "Paralyzed By Fear" then is a slightly different song. The start vaguely reminds me of BLACK SABBATH. Not that it's slow or really heavy but it has something similar to them. The song also contains probably the best damn riff on the whole album. "Pile Of Desolation" is another song that had me wondering where I had heard it before. And again I had to give up. It's a great song nonetheless. Come to think of it quite a lot of the songs have that impact. They are familiar but still I can't say where I had heard it. It's not a bad thing no. LAY DOWN ROTTEN does it with style and their ability to combine these elements and create something fresh out of them is rather admirable.
As for musicianship the only bad thing that I have to say is that the singer isn't the best for this music. Daniel J's vocals seem to be a little out of place here. And the fact that they sometimes get drowned behind the instruments (like on "Fall") doesn't help ether. But all in all that isn't a big matter for the music more than makes up for it.
So yes, it's got all the trademark stuff. But it's not all cheesy and it's not all cliché. Like some other new bands out there venturing in this genre LAY DOWN ROTTEN manage to create something new and fresh by combining a lot of different elements. Well fresh at least for someone who doesn't listen to this type of music extensively nor exclusively. They sound like a hundred other bands and still they sound just like LAY DOWN ROTTEN and that's quite a feat indeed. Worth a listen for anyone interested in Melodic Death Metal and especially for those who are not yet tired of it. (Online January 2, 2004)