COFFIN ROT – A Monument To The Dead

COFFIN ROT – A Monument To The Dead

In 1986, Slayer pioneered a new unique sound, thrash in death’s convention, the sound countless emulators capitalized on later, the sound Slayer themselves lost, in 1998. With their debut album, this Oregonian quartet showcase compelling potential to resurrect the sound Slayer themselves vainly tried to regain until their recent wrap up.

Coffin Rot, obviously inspired by the likes of Obituary’s "Slowly We Rot" or Death’s "Leprosy", not to mention Chris Barnes era Cannibal Corpse, formed just 2 years ago in Portland, Oregon with the intention of playing the most classic death metal recorded in rich analog but with modern production, which they conveyed on the rehearsal (2017) and the eponymous demo (2018) before recording, this here, the debut full length as Hayden Johnson (vocals), Tre Guertner (guitars), Brandon Martinez-Woodall (bass) and Derek Johnson (drums). The album has 8 tracks and lasts a little over 32 minutes.

The best thing about "A Monument To The Dead" (AMTTD) is its fantastic production. Described by the label as "clear-yet-crushing…epitome of powerful", it is decidedly "Reign In Blood" through "Divine Intervention" Slayer-ic yet retaining characteristics of Death’s "Leprosy/Spiritual Healing", Obituary’s "Slowly We Rot/Cause Of Death" or Immolation’s "Dawn Of Possession", with some notable Swedish school (Entombed, Dismember, Grave, Unleashed, etc.) delivered with the attitude of Morbid Angel’s "Altars Of Madness" and vocal amalgamate of ancient Ross Dolan (Immolation) and John Tardy (Obituary) in one man, Hayden Johnson. For all the times the name of the producer and/or studio is revealed, in this case, there is no way to establish it, which is not good business since Coffin Rot should absolutely have the same production on the follow up. This is simply one of the best, most balanced productions in recent memory, a very powerfull asset in the band’s portfolio.

Most of the songs are kept in the aforementioned convention, best represented by Bolt Thrower-ish "Miasma Of Barbarity", but its immediate follower, the 2nd favorite "Forced Self-Consumption" is even more fun of an old school nostalgia. These tracks ooze the spirit, the power and the brilliance of the 1988-1992 death metal, very noticeably touching Malevolent Creation’s "The Ten Commandments/Retribution" on top of the usual suspects. But the absolute favorite is hands down the closer, the band’s namesake, as it recalls the steamroller slow burn of title tracks from Slayer’s "South Of Heaven" and "Seasons In The Abyss" in every possible reference while simultaneously retaining its own identity. Remember when Machine Head released "Burn My Eyes" and, as you were pondering the brilliant, unique songwriting you went "oh, that’s Sepultura" or "there’s that black Metallica riff" or "total Slayer", however, once you checked the original references for similarity you found less commonality? Such is the case with AMTTD. Surely, that riff and solo is pure "Within The Mind" Death (Incubation of Madness) and that excellent slow down is note for note "Pull The Plug" of the same (Forced Self-Consumption), but is it really? Or is it really, in both cases, smart utilization of the classic past in the process of creating your own style?

Given that this is a debut, the songwriting is somewhat inconsistent as evidenced by the opener "Copremesis" or, especially, the brutal, technical "Mechanical Separation" a’la contemporary Blood Red Throne. These are good songs and I like how the opener is one track with the classic death intro, but the the former sounds like a warm up and the latter is shockingly uncatchy, probably the only track with that problem. These are things which, I am positive, will be easily corrected on the follow up and it’s always good to have something to start with on the next album.

Slayer is almost done but the legendary sound we’ve grown to appreciate may continue through Coffin Rot, who make excellent use of the past for the construction of the future. I highly recommend this disk to fans of all things death metal and will definitely look out for more from these talented Oregonians.