I used to dig a band called Oppressor, tech death metal, out of Chicago Illinois, mid-90s. I met the guys in the band when they did a gig in Albuquerque, New Mexico back in ’96 with Florida’s Malevolent Creation. The guitarist for Oppressor told me, “…if you like what we do, you should check out a band called Jungle Rot, they’re gonna be huge.” That was 22 years ago, the conversation went something like that, anyway. But I did check out Jungle Rot and I haven’t stopped listening to them since.
But there’s a difference between the Jungle Rot of the 90s and the band we know today. Back then it was more of a classic, maybe, primitive death metal sound a la the Florida death metal scene that was beginning to wind down as Jungle Rot began to ramp up. Now, when I listen to this band, I hear maturity, focus and experience mixing with each other, nurturing a sound and a style that’s been growing within them since day one. This is a band that’s seen quite a bit, toured quite a bit, and studied the death metal genre meticulously. So, the band you hear now is a machine. A finely tuned, face melting machine. And that’s exactly what their new self-titled record is. Says singer / guitarist Dave Matrise, “Old-school groove with attitude needed its boundaries pushed,” and by god those boundaries were not only pushed, they became scorched Earth.
There’s a lot going on with this record. And the best part about it? It all comes together, it works. At times Jungle Rot’s sound seems to shift back and forth between old school death metal, 90s era grindcore and straight up hardcore, thanks in large part to the vocal bashing Matrise lays down, especially with opening song “Send Forth Oblivion” reminiscent of “Harmony Corruption” era Napalm Death that feeds into track two “Delusional Denial” where Jungle Rot meets Agnostic Front. I don’t want to send the wrong message here, the sound, the songs, it’s all Jungle Rot, just with the brutality factor cranked up to 11. Says bassist James Genenz, “Expect a beatdown if you aren’t prepared!”
Track five, “Fearmonger,” features Matrise trading gut churning vocal duties with Destruction’s legendary front man Schmier, a standout track on this record for sure. The dual vocals meld well together, adding an extra layer of aggression and ferocity to a song that’s already razor sharp to begin with. And this leads me to mention what I’ve been alluding to already. Too many times, buzz words like “brutality” and “aggression” get tossed around to describe the death metal genre which means more often than not, they get watered down and lose their meaning. In the case of this record, it’s the ONLY way to describe the action going on here.
The heaviness factor, the sheer pummeling that happens with each song, is extraordinary to say the least. This is an aural ass kicking that should become death metal 101 for younger bands to learn from, in terms of what heaviness truly means and how this genre should sound. Jungle Rot isn’t a band doing formulaic music, this is a band that’s dynamic, pushing boundaries, and raising the bar high for everyone, fans and bands alike. And that’s how it should be.
I mentioned the genre of hardcore above and to be fair and honest, this record, although reminiscent at times of that particular musical style, is just ten times beyond that. I want to single out the vocals but again, to be fair, it’s everyone in the band just slamming down the heaviest record that 2018 has seen so far. There’s not a single bum track on Jungle Rot. This is by far an exercise in perfection, what death metal was meant to sound like when you have every guy in the band sweating blood and tears to make the best record possible. If you enjoyed Terror Regime as much as I did, you’ll be blown away by this new record for sure. The best death metal record of 2018 so far. Outstanding!