If necessity is the mother of invention, nostalgia is the mother of stagnation. And, like pond scum in a scummy pond, the revitalization of old school death metal--with the Portland scene being a particularly prolific example--revels in nostalgia. Normally a bad thing, sure. But in the case of OSDM, the best and the brightest revel (righteously so) in the worship of legacy genre motifs. And, unlike many genres under the sun, I would argue that these backward-looking outfits--bands that don’t strive to make strides--can indeed be responsible for some of the most unabashedly fun heavy music available. Enter Coffin Rot, with their debut album in tow.
I was first impressed by these guys when they first put out an EP with a gnarly logo and gnarlier riffs. Then they dropped a split EP with fellow OSDMites Molder, and I was sold, fully and completely. In my review of the latter, I stated these “Oregonian underground plague merchants display an instant maturity...as they dig up bodies with a steam shovel.” Here, I’m pleased to report that A Monument to the Dead is more of the same--if you were to take the same, that is, and crank it up about, erm, 11 notches. Any and all ample promise these corpse-lickers displayed last year is amplified tenfold here. The result? Easily the best straight OSDM worship released in 2019, in this particular scribes’ inflated opinion.
This debut is a rock-solid slab of fetid death metal, pure and simple. If you're familiar with Obituary, Grave, or any similarly cadaver-associated swedeath acts, you know the likes of which Coffin Rot have unearthed. A pedal-to-the-metal tempo, rabid and rotting riffage, and slimy growls are the name of the game. Not too complicated, but we aren’t here for complicated. We’re here to bang heads, throw elbows, and hopefully crush some skulls.
“Copremesis” kicks things off with graveyard ambiance and a thrashy meat-n-potatoes Swedeath riff. Each subsequent track is, in turn, dragged over gravely vocals, under boulderous riffs and fills, and through miasmic boggish ambiance, before ultimately landing in cavernous depths. If asked to spill my guts and recommend a highlight track or two, I’d genuinely find myself at a loss--there are very few weak moments across this record, and very few moments that truly leap above the median. Beyond a noteworthy ability to write consistently concise and punchy tunes, Coffin Rot come equipped with a jam-packed arsenal of ripe production, grisly riffs, and some of the most (dare I say) repugnant vocals out there.
These newcomers have done OSDM proud, and while they certainly aren’t pushing the death metal field forward, the result is a relentlessly enjoyable ride. If that ain’t enough to get you listenin’, I really don’t know what will. In sum: A Monument to the Dead made my honorable mention list, and had I been in more of an Old Skool mood throughout last year, it likely would have made the Top 20 proper. If you’re looking to revel in glorious stagnation, Coffin Rot comes highly recommended.
Coffin Rot - A Monument to the Dead was released Oct. 18th from Rotted Life Records and Blood Harvest Records
Providing thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy, and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a groggy-eyed, highfalutin peasantry.