From the first opening salvo of ‘Terraform’, Perth’s Earth Rot will make you think that they’re going to take listeners by the throat and not relinquish their grip until Renascentia, their sophomore album, comes to an end.
This is not the case, as throughout the 36 minute running time, Renascentia takes some surprising twists and turns. Sure, their bread and butter is a solid foundation of blackened death, that instantly had this writer making comparisons to Goatwhore, New Orleans’ well-loved purveyors of blackened devilry, the mixing from Erik Rutan certainly lends credence to these comparisons. This is by no means the case here, either.
The first half of the album is relatively straightforward, with frontman Jared Bridgeman’s frenetic vocals, soaked in reverb battling against duelling guitars, and a solid foundation of thumping bass, and brief, caustic drum fills that have much in common with hardcore punk. Tracks like the aforementioned ‘Terraform’ and ‘Panoptic Terror’ set the mark here.
The second half of the album is where things begin to get a little… surprising. A haunting, sombre instrumental background moves in tandem with moody vocals. It moves along at a measured pace, until the track reaches its climax and a saxophone solo from Shining’s Jørgen Munkeby that signals the beginning of ‘Bestial Shadow Forest’ which sees Earth Rot amp it back it up. This one couples an almost classic metal-styled lead section with an absolutely enthralling mid-section. The following tracks continue the band’s penchant for experimentation. ‘Funeral Pyre’ featuring a scorching solo that steps aside for a blistering acoustic-led finale. The penultimate ‘Condemned to the Grave’ sees the band go death’n’roll in a manner that calls to mind Entombed, or even the aforementioned Goatwhore’s ‘Apocalyptic Havoc’, featuring that almost Motörhead-esque take on death metal. Closer ‘Unfurled, The Cover of Darkness’ sees Earth Rot go for all their worth, with progressive overtones coupling almost drone-like instrumental passages.
This is a great album, and offers further proof that bands from Western Australia tend to push the boundaries in their own ways. It leaves me with a conflicting question. These guys are relatively young, and perhaps they’re still finding their own sound. But I’m conflicted as to whether the album is enjoyable because of the segue between its straightforward first half and utterly surprising second half. I enjoyed it greatly on these merits, but I couldn’t help but wonder what a whole album of tracks with the daring approach of the second half would have been like.
Ah well, maybe that’s better left for album number three.
2. The Ancient Fire
3. Waves of the Blackest Fire
4. Anachronous Oath
5. Panoptic Terror
6. The Bones That Lay Beneath the Earth
7. Bestial Shadow Forest
8. Funeral Pyre
9. Condemned to the Grave
10. Unfurled, the Cover of Darkness