Review Summary: Underwhelmed by the rot.
Despite my hesitancy to embrace Cabal’s dissonant brand of metal including sounds (dubbed black metal, djent and deathcore) utmost curiosity forced my hands (or my ears) into finding out exactly what the hype was all about. I found myself with mixed opinions, unable to shake the feeling that Mark Of Rot
simply missed the mark
in a mess of incoherent, unfocused genre-pooling. Fortunately, Cabal’s Mark Of Rot
has a couple of solid tracks able to cover a surplus of ‘filler’ allowing Cabal’s debut effort to be slightly above passable, while failing to live up to the hype.
Mark Of Rot
’s ability to meld together the typical low end riff work made famous by the likes of Meshuggah, with the occasional downtempo rhythm sections found al a Black Tongue records combined with the ever present, two toned screams that vary from your typical black metal shrieks to middling (yet powerful) death growls are an achievement by itself. Unfortunately, the combination of good ideas and tight musicianship fail to sound like anything other than a band hopping on multiple hype-wagons… at the same time. My main grip with Mark Of Rot
’s particular sound is the lack of variance between those particular sounds. Having so many styles to work with, and the ability to play them it becomes confusing as to why Cabal rely so heavily on the d-beat ringing chords without the substance to back it up. Tracks like, “Blackened Soul” are able to tear through the speakers with excellent use of ringing atmospherics and intense vocal structures - making for some of the album’s most enjoyable listening but the track itself fails to push on the potential this Danish band has to offer and while “Rah’ Ru” builds on the oppressive, majestic dread Cabal are becoming known for these two tracks can’t completely carry the weight of the rest of the record.
Also worthy of a mention is the Filip Danielsson (of Sweden’s In Reverence) featured track, “The Darkest Embrace”. Short, sharp and abrupt the track itself relies less on the downbeat riff work that cripples the rest of the album while Filip’s guttural death growls permeate long after “The Darkest Embrace” finishes, while the djent styles of Cabal’s instrumental side actually have a chance to shine properly, culminating in the year’s best breakdown to date. Ultimately, it’s the medium to short run time of Mark Of Rot
that becomes the album’s saving grace. Had the album been another track or two longer, it would’ve most certainly out-stayed its welcome. Tracks begin to meld together, becoming undistinguishable between beginning and end and while there is an under-reaching level of diversity to be found on Cabal’s full-length debut there is some positive to be found in a band that’s willing to be this ambitious when producing music.
Overall, Cabal’s Mark Of Rot
appeals to a certain type of listener. Surely, if you are pissed off enough to find yourself enjoying this, flailing limbs and rocking heads are almost guaranteed. If like me, you’re still wondering exactly what the hype is about a few more spins are not going to hurt you. There are some gems hidden in the rot
, just don’t miss the mark
. As a whole, Mark Of Rot
is a “hit” and “miss” record, plagued by its own attempts to be more than something it actually is. When these guys knuckle down and focus on their sound, we’ll start hearing some great music. They’ve already got everything else they already need.