Get Dead Or Die Trying
posted on 7/2008 By:
For those of you who haven’t been paying attention to this groundbreaking death metal institution (har dee har), England’s The Rotted were formally known as Gorerotted. I’m gonna show my youth here a little bit—Gorerotted were one of the first gore-themed death metal bands I ever heard, thanks to their presence on a compilation I picked up in my metal infancy some years back. Specifically it was a track off of Mutilated in Minutes, their first album, and though the band was unspectacular, I developed an attachment to them. Over the years, of course, my horizons broadened, and my increasing appetite for death metal left less and less room in my schedule for ol’ Gorerotted. My interest in the band waned as their releases grew progressively cleaner, more melodic, and less lyrically childish (I thought they pulled off the tongue-through-cheek gore diatribes better than most), but I’d still spin Mutilated in Minutes on occasion when I was in the mood for some light-hearted but goopy fun. When I heard that the band’s entire lineup were shedding the Gorerotted moniker in favor of the new one, my curiosity was piqued. Get Dead or Die Trying makes it clear that indeed, Gorerotted are dead, and something far more streamlined and modern has replaced them.
In fact, the excision of the word ‘gore’ from their name seems to be very significant, as most of what landed them in the house that Carcass built has been done away with. There’s but one reference to something even remotely horror-esque amongst the song titles (“The Body Tree” being the sole exception); in their place are a collection of punkishly silly titles like “Nothin’ But a Nosebleed” and the Exodus-style pun “Angel of Meth.” Though the death metal high/low vocal tagteam has endured, Ben McCrow has abandoned his goregrind gurgle in favor of a mid-range bellow not unlike Misery Index’s Jason Netherton. Even the production has shed the last of its filthy grit in favor of tones that verge on digital.
Instead of the gory hijinks, The Rotted have done as Carcass, Regurtitated, Aborted, Exhumed, and countless others before them, and given their sound a very modernized makeover. In this case, the sonic changeup has come in the form of more controlled and melodic riffwriting, as well as a healthy dose of power-chord-driven punk influence a la Napalm Death or the aforementioned Misery Index. The songs are often short and tightly wound verse-chorus affairs that center around slightly off-kilter tremolo melodies with a handful of chunky grooves thrown in to break up the monotony; in short, it’s a much more listenable and deliberate approach than that of their early work.
Unfortunately, The Rotted don’t seem to know exactly what they’re doing so deliberately, and Get Dead or Die Trying is ultimately undone by its middle-of-the-road nature. These guys are obviously trying to bring their sound out of the stone ages, but they also clearly don’t want to really let go of their sloppy, giddy roots, and the result is an album that can’t decide if it wants to be taut modern death/grind or voracious gore metal, and ends up sounding like Benighted with a hangover. Throw in a few completely out-of-place, almost latter-Tool-sounding clean instrumentals (“A Brief Moment of Regret,” the overlong “28 Days Later”) and you have an album with as many false starts as successes.
Undoubtedly there will be those who cry “sellout” on this album, and frankly that seems a little ridiculous—the chances of the band making any money on this album are nil, and if they manage it, good on’em for breaking even with a death metal album. These guys are clearly a little tired of cranking out redundant gore-core and I don’t blame them, but that doesn’t mean I have to like what they chose to do instead. At best, Get Dead or Die Trying is a transition album, and at worst this band has lost its direction.
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