Review Summary: Delivering the escapism anyone looks for out of oldschool death metal, and literally nothing else.
Personifying the market's answer to the demand for oldschool death metal, TrenchRot's debut full-length album "Necronomic Warfare
" makes it a point to pummel your eardrums with the music of ages past. The technique is all there - the guitarwork is defined by repetitive passages that eventually transition to soaring solos; the drum fills are either relentlessly smashing their way through the track or staggered in their setup of the next passage; and the vocals are a very, very
tried-and-true mix of high shrieks and mid-toned yells. If you're looking for a band that reinvents the wheel, this Pennsylvanian outfit is not for you. If you're looking for a group of guys who will disregard the wheel altogether and instead cave your brains in with a club, you'd be doing yourself a disservice if you left this album by the wayside.
The vocals on "Necronomic Warfare
" are unapologetically one-track, refusing to deviate from the standard shrieks and yells of a late '80s thrash vocalist - and this sets the stage rather well for this album, as TrenchRot are a decidedly old-fashioned outfit. Though not quite pandering, the vocals do sometimes suffer from their lack of variety, but what's there is still more than respectable. The opening to "Maddening Aggression", for example, lets you know from the start that you're in for a headbanging track, and the chorus of album closer and title track "Necronomic Warfare" feature a slightly modernised technique and hearken back to more recent releases. Bodyfarm's "The Coming Scourge
" or Tormention's "Hunger for Flesh
" are good comparisons, but it's worth noting that TrenchRot achieve a similar level of impact without relying on production, instead providing a more 'raw' sound.
A caveat I've always held of oldschool death metal has been its simplistic riffing and fretwork, but the guitarwork you'll hear on "Necronomic Warfare
" holds quite a bit more variety than you might assume upon first glance. Album opener "Death by TrenchRot" fails to deviate from its own recipe until the very end of the track, but the follow-up, "Gustav Gun", is home to many enjoyable passages and includes one of the finest solos on the album. "Necronomic Warfare
" is also notable for maintaining a genuine oldschool vibe to it over a fifty-minute running time, and the guitarwork is a big part of how TrenchRot was able to accomplish such a task. Between the crushing riffs that open tracks and the massive solos that often close them, the guitarplay on "Necronomic Warfare
" almost feels too
varied for such a purist release, but it's certainly one of the most appreciable parts of the record simply because of how much there is to listen to.
The basswork and drum fills that TrenchRot have put forth with this album are nothing too special. 'Serviceable' is a good word for them - they are certainly instrumental to the overall sound design of "Necronomic Warfare
", but they fail to bring any consistent impact, instead relying on the guitarwork of the album to propel the rest of the instrumentation to new heights. Try as I might, I failed to detect any clever bassplay or intriguing drumwork - but even so, the band members behind those instruments do their jobs. Your traditional 'follow the leader' basswork and 'smash everything for a few minutes' drum fills are more than enough for TrenchRot to get their point across, and it's a good thing, too, because that's all you'll hear on this record.
Ultimately, TrenchRot produced a high-quality and powerful 'purist' death metal release, and there's no arguing that. The production isn't pro-tooled, the instrumentation is in-your-face, and the vocals are about as high-impact as oldschool death metal can get. A good album deserves recognition, don't get me wrong, but while "Necronomic Warfare
" delivers the bone-crushing smack-daddying that fans of Bolt Thrower and Asphyx have been yearning for, those who set out to review sites looking for something of more substance are advised to look elsewhere for their fix. TrenchRot have forcibly carved out a niche for themselves in the metal community, and while I'm sure they have a future paying homage to the forefathers of the genre, I would like to see them expand their material.