Body horror is certainly not outside the norm for death metal, but Cerebral Rot commits to the theme with unparalleled extremity. Excretion of Mortality lurches and heaves with a throbbing animalistic rhythm—borne less of bestial instinct and more of involuntary muscular movement, like a malevolent spurting artery. The songwriting here makes their debut Odious Descent into Decay feel like a playful warm up. Cerebral Rot have stepped up not only within death metal, but as modern masters of grotesque.
This music is disgusting in such a particularly moist and grimy manner that it could only have come from Seattle. The death metal quartet wore their grunge and punk influences on their sleeves for Odious Descent, alternating between filthy death metal and almost bouncy Pearl Jam-esque drum passages. Now they blend everything together in a masterful concoction. Grunge inspired groove is still here, but wholly transposed to the sludgy depths of death metal convention.
All the best words to describe this music are already in the lyrics (and song titles). The words themselves blend into the music, creating a mutually evocative slurry of sound. When Ian Schwab retches out “excretion” amidst a flurry of spinning guitar lines and pummeling percussion, it sure does feel like the sound is seeping out of the speakers, pressed through by some unknowable force. Meanwhile a gurgled “yolk” sounds thick and viscid, the drums ploddingly heavy. Even the way Schwab disgorges “bowels” gives the word intimately unsettling layers of meaning, summoning the horrifically paltry scientific knowledge we have of our own digestive tract. Who really knows what’s going down there? Hopefully not these guys.
Wordplay aside, Excretion of Mortality is comprehensively visceral. A spasmodic guitar solo on “Retching Innards” stirs something deep in your gut, a good example of the off-kilter and consequently disconcerting lead guitar tone that pops up throughout. Most of the time though those guitars are chugging away just below the surface, subtly frenetic riffs depict a seething boil that could spew at any moment. The pummeling drums on “Vile Yolk of Contagion” evoke a tidal wave of something sticky oozing forward at an interminable crawl—as Schwab’s husky vocals rasp their way into the soundscape, everything rolls forward with a ponderous sense of viscosity.
Fittingly, the track with the longest and most complicated title, album closer “Crowning the Disgustulent (Breed of Repugnance),” also brings the most nuanced songwriting to bear. The simultaneously groovy and filthy riffs, the shrieking guitar solo, everything puts what came before to shame—and the song isn’t even half over. The vocals don’t come in until the midpoint breakdown, but because this is Cerebral Rot it’s less a breakdown than an acidic dissolution. Schwab’s growl erupts in a phlegmy crescendo, an impressively disturbing feat no doubt reserved for only one song per set. An extended outro slowly fades out, leaving only the rolling, echoey drums. It is a finale in every sense, crowning this delightfully repugnant triumph of death metal.
Label: 20 Buck Spin