Back with their first album in three years, their 10th overall, Wisconsin death-metal purveyors Jungle Rot deliver the first self-titled album in their 25 year career. It’s fitting that this is the their first self-titled album as it pulls on the stems of their past while firmly planting their feet in the present. And buckle up, because these 10 songs are 100% mayhem. Never once taking their foot off the gas, the band plows through song after song like an infantry heading into war.
Kicking off with “Send Forth Oblivion,” the band seems to be leaning closer toward thrash than death metal, and they do so with considerable success. The track sets the tone for the songs that follow – brutal and unrelenting. First, don’t let that thrash confuse you, this is Jungle Rot. This is a heavy and unflagging attack on your ear drums. It’s everything you’ve always loved about the band, but it sounds particularly inspired and fresh. That’s what makes this such an exciting release. Having time to develop the songs and painstakingly record them has resulted in a truly satisfying album. Tracks like “A Burning Cinder,” “Triggered,” and “Stay Dead” are stuffed with scorching riffs backed by some of the best drumming on any Jungle Rot album. Indeed, Jesse Beahler both drives the songs forward and anchors the grooves that hold everything in place. Of course, Dave Matrise is the heart and soul of the band. He has written some great songs here and you can hear the confidence in his vocals and lyrics. And special mention should go to Geoff Bub for his lead guitar playing. Whether subtly backing up a main riff with melodic lead work or elevating a song with a soaring lead, Bub has some wonderfully tasteful and precise playing throughout the album.
Obviously, a looming darkness hangs over these songs – it’s fucking Jungle Rot, after all. Unsurprisingly, today’s political climate factors in, but things get personal as well. The songs “Glory for the Fallen” and “Pumped Full of Lead” were written for Matrise’s close friend who was tragically murdered last year. If you want pain and anger, these songs got it in spades. One of the albums highlights is the song “Fearmonger,” featuring Destruction’s Marcel “Schmier” Schirmer on vocals. A ferocious song that features both Schmier and Matrise spitting venom while Beahler lays down a perpetual tremor behind them. The album closes with a superb cover of Kreator’s “Terrible Certainty.” As mentioned previously, this isn’t an album that reinvents the wheel. It has it’s roots stretching back throughout the bands career, which is why the Kreator cover is so fitting to the albums overall tone. It’s both a tribute and a new realization of the perfectly crafted thrash anthem.
This is one of the best pure metal albums I’ve heard this year. Chop it up subjectively and throw it into whatever pigeonhole makes you comfortable, but Jungle Rot is a behemoth of an album that doesn’t give a shit about death or thrash or the ever multiplying metal sub-genres. The band, and this album, exists on its own terms. Everything else is irrelevant. This release is highly recommended. Can’t wait to catch these guys live.
– J. Kevin Lynch