Truth be told, I hadn’t heard of Cerebral Rot before I tentatively put my hand up to give it the once over, but Death Metal (and certainly the gorier side of things) has piqued my interest over the last couple of years and recent release by bands such as Parasitic Ejaculation and the excellent (and reviewed on this hallowed pages a few years weeks ago) Putrefied J have shown that there is very much life in the old (zombified and maggot filled obviously) dog yet. And whilst this genre seems over stuffed (like a bloated corpse….sorry, I’ll stop) at times merely a race to the top (or bottom whichever way you look at it) to see who can belch out the most disturbing lyrics, sounds, samples, t-shirts, artwork and music (lads and lasses you’re always going to be two steps behind the mighty Aborted I am afraid), it’s a genre that often displays high levels of musical dexterity that is demanded by this hugely technical style of music so I was interested to see what Cerebral Rot could conjure.
In the course of researching the band, their demo released last year ‘Cessation of Life’ caused quite a stir and having listened to that it’s certainly a promising start despite a fairly rubbish production job that relegates much of the songs into a bubbling low end soup. Hailing from Seattle, Washington in the good old US of A, Cerebral Rot, formed back in 2016 from the ashes of several other bands and this represents their full length debut effort that definitely improves slightly on the musical quality shown on their demo but I have to question the production on here which if anything makes their demo sound like it was produced by Mutt Lange (uber producer from the 80’s responsible for the thick sheen of chart bothering magic juice for Def Leppard, AC/DC and The Coors??!!) and this album by their 14 year old, deaf in one ear cat. Apologies if that sounds harsh and I might be missing a trick here in terms of this is what they wanted it to sound like and maybe it’s a musical trope of the genre that represents the grime, gore and grind of the music but come on chaps…there’s plenty of free software out there and decent second hand mics and 16 tracks you could get hold of?
The musical output doesn’t stray too far from their demo, if anything the pace has slowed somewhat and replete with demonic samples (someone has been listening to Deicide’s self-titled masterpiece recently) and Boltthrower-esq percussive kick drum rolls, things look good on the face of it if, it weren’t for a couple of things. After a few listens the lack of tonal variation and song structure here begins to grate somewhat, coupled with a crappy production job and the fact that some of the playing on here is on the wrong side of sloppy grinds things to a halt. It may be a small thing but at times the drums seem to fall asleep at the wheel and slow down/speed up (where they shouldn’t I should add) and in a genre that prides itself on technical proficiency it sticks out like a sore thumb on occasion.
Overall though, there is much to like about this debut, the vocals are suitably gargled like a baby in a microwave, the guitars are thick and drip with oozing menace and whilst the songs stay in second gear and grind like a teenager at a Post Malone gig post G.C.S.Es after 3 cans of White Lighting, things are fine. It’s when they go hell for leather, 100mph, that they lose the plot a little, and become mere cannon fodder in an overcrowded genre with bands that do this much better then Cerebral Rot. A promising start but lack of variation coupled with a crappy production job and other musical niggles means that this is nothing to get your knickers in a twist over.
(5/10 Nick Griffiths)