Lay Down Rotten
Mask of Malice
posted on 3/2012 By:
Ever hear music that you know you would have loved if you were still in tenth grade? Lay Down Rotten's newest effort Mask of Malice falls into this category for me. It's a simple, unambitious album that doesn't do much wrong except for being simple and unambitious. A semi-melodic, semi-core take on modern death metal, Mask of Malice is a pretty fun ride that also does little to dent your memory or stand up against the stronger contenders in its field.
Lay Down Rotten definitely shows flashes in the riff department. While many of the licks here are pretty generic, the band strikes an agreeable chord between Gothenburg-esque guitar harmonies, thrashy aggression, and a touch of death metal extremity. There's at least one or two solid hooks in each track, and while the occasional sample or clean guitar flourish doesn't do much to expand the scope of the tracks, the songwriting is pretty solid from a strings perspective. I liked the In Flames style dual-melodies, and there's some tasty soloing, though it's sparsely used overall. There's a bit of a deathcore kick in the slower segments as well, which adds a little weight to the proceedings.
Unfortunately, the other instruments don't do much to support the guitar work. The drumming, while tight and efficient, is also fairly lifeless and sterile sounding. The blastbeats fail to convey any sensation of speed, and the lack of differentiation in sound between the various parts of the kit renders most of the percussion into a series of clicks and clacks in the background. The vocals further bog down the delivery. I don't have a problem with one-dimensional vocals in principle, but the hectoring, monotone nature of the barking growls gets really grating after a couple of listens. They don't add anything to the energy or atmosphere of the songs and generally just drone along in an obnoxious manner.
Lay Down Rotten ultimately falls short of delivering anything more than a solid but rather colorless modern extreme metal exercise. The band is good for a couple of nice riffs per song, but not much more than that. Fans of the outfit's past outings or of this style of metal in general may want to give Mask of Malice a go, but most of you have heard plenty of more consistent and adventurous albums in this vein.
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