Earth Rot - Black Tides of Obscurity
Season Of Mist
10 songs (45:22)
Release year: 2020
Season Of Mist
Reviewed by Goat

This Australian group have been making steadily increasing waves since launching as a duo in 2013, and third full-length Black Tides of Obscurity shows them at the height of their powers. The deceptively simple formula of old-school Swedish death plus old-school Norwegian black has increased in technicality and complexity since debut Follow the Black Smoke in 2014, and although this is a little cleaner and clearer in sound than the previous albums it still has the HM-2y crust and grime that you'd expect from underground metal. It's especially impressive if you've not heard the band before; opener Dread Rebirth alone is a six-minute mini-epic, moving from chainsawing death metal with deliciously technical drumming through an ominously psychedelic interlude with languid clean guitar melodies and more spewed snarls from vocalist / bassist Jared Bridgeman (all in all like Opeth if they were bigger fans of Autopsy) before turning for blackened realms as it speeds up... and fades away.

A perfect album opener, disappointing you almost sadistically as it leaves you wanting more! And there is plenty more to be had, the following New Horns building on the blackened parts of the band's sound with more horrific screams and yowls from Bridgeman, switching to pure blasting at points. The general song quality is high, and the production is terrific, allowing the bass to shine through the thick guitar tone like sun through clouds, so the listening experience of Black Tides of Obscurity as a whole is a pleasure. And there's something unique and enjoyable on pretty much every track here, from the Anaal Nathrakh-esque nastiness of Ancestral Vengeance's epic blackened torrent to The Cape of Storms, which moves from Dismember-y grooves to downright funky rock riffing, making the two fit naturally while exercising your neck all along.

Particular highlights include the rhythmic pounding of Towards a Godless Shrine which is like Marduk plus Bolt Thrower (with a bit of Melechesh in the drumming at points) with some non-irritating sampling along the way, and the blackened thrash assault of Serpent's Ocean. The three-minute-plus Mind Killer is a nice little experiment, mixing maddened screams with guitar flurries in an almost grindcore result, and even outro Out in the Cold is captivating, a demented bluesy piece with humming and sort-of-clean singing that is utterly bizarre but strangely ominous at the same time. Each added genre is used well and naturally, in line with the band's death metal core, making for an album that feels and plays terrifically. You could ask for a little more of the prog death vibe that pops up here and there, but ultimately this is an excellent album that will survive long on the playlist and might even make a year-end list, if we survive that long!

Killing Songs :
Dread Rebirth, Towards a Godless Shrine, The Cape of Storms
Goat quoted 85 / 100
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