Earth Rot have been doing their black metal thing since 2013, since when they’ve released two eps and now three albums. Although they’ve never come into my life previously, it’s clear that they’ve put themselves about a bit, having toured across the world and accompanying Fleshgod Apocalypse, Vader and Marduk amongst others.
There’s a kind of symphonic element to this. I certainly felt that while listening to the opener “Dread Rebirth”. The plus point for me was that instead of going into bombast and flamboyance, the song structure transforms and develops. “New Horns” is harsher and lives up more to the claim that this album is an exploration of the “new cosmic horror of human insignificance and the fragility of the mind”. The merciless black metal is more than violent, orientating itself to the dramatic and atmospheric. Roaring and sound-affected vocals add to the sense of suffering. Nails are hammered down as another evil symphony strikes up. “Towards A Godless Shrine” has a relentless melody to it as it batters on ferociously. The regularity of it is quite familiar. The sound in fact is neither new nor old, not that it matters. This is somewhere between Behemoth, Dimmu Borgir, Marduk and Devilish Impressions in space and atmosphere. It is heavy and filled with terror but appeals to the ear with its sweeping progression.
The fireworks and outright misanthropy continue. “Ancestral Vengeance” steps up the ante, battering and vomiting its way through the temple of terror that it portrays. The technique and the flow can’t be faulted, but for the most part the album does follow a familiar groove. A short bass intervention, followed by a more classic metal section on “The Cape of Storms” momentarily break the norm, but the norm is well and truly restored with the next assault, “Serpent’s Ocean”. The album continues in its insistent but generic pattern but there is a very powerful and epic passage towards the end of “Unravelling Vapour of Sanity”. It could have gone on for longer. Pity it didn’t. This would have made a fitting and climactic end, but instead there’s an incongruous bluesy song called “Out in the Cold”. It’s like one of those bonus tracks which serves no purpose and has nothing to do with the rest of the album. Taake’s Christopher Zibell plays spoons on it but that does nothing for it. The only thing to say is that the “I’m losing my mind” lyric matches the stated theme of the album, but musically the momentum is lost.
Leaving out the strange last track, “Black Tides of Obscurity” sounds very familiar as if it has been taken from a text book of blackened death metal. Accordingly, it lacks personality. This said, it’s done very well and there is plenty of darkened energy, which matches its intention.
(6.5/10 Andrew Doherty)